[Owasp-board] We've seized defeat from the jaws of victory. Again.

Josh Sokol josh.sokol at owasp.org
Tue Apr 19 03:44:58 UTC 2016

For the record, LASCON 2015 had 6 out of 55 female presenters (11%).  2 out
of 8 of the Featured Speakers were female (25%).  1 out of the 3 Keynotes
were female (33%).  I don't think it's fair to say that "it's clear because
every conference organizational committee has in our history failed to
achieve even 10% gender diversity for over a decade now".


In Austin, we also have a woman Chapter Leader and several women who are
active on our planning teams (chapter and conferences).  Dale Carnegie
wrote "Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise".  Maybe,
instead of dropping the hammer on those who we think are doing it wrong and
expecting them to change their ways, we should be highlighting those who
are setting a positive example for the community?

I can tell you from my experience running AppSecUSA 2012 that very little
was given to our planning team in the way of recommendations, expectations,
connections, historical data, etc.  We did what we did because it was what
was deemed comfortable and attainable for our planning team.  With the
addition of Laura to our staff since then, I would expect a much higher
level of guidance on best practices and expectations coming from the
Foundation as well as the resources to back that up.  If expectations has
been set for the conference planners, and they are failing to meet those
expectations, then I agree that the Board needs to take swift and decisive
actions to remedy the situation.  That said, I am unaware of any such
mandates that have come down from the Foundation which leads me to believe
that, devoid of any requirements, this is a situation where, right or
wrong, speaker diversity slipped the minds of the conference planners.  We
don't have to be dicks about it by removing speakers and whatnot after
announcements have been made.  If you truly believe that it is our fault,
then punishing the conference planners and selected speakers for our
shortcomings will only upset people.  Bring it to their attention and allow
them to find a solution for this issue.  If they cannot or do not, then we
move forward and knowing that may not be a team we want to award the
conference to in the future.  For now, I'd suggest that we focus on putting
a process in place to either do blind selection or require diversity for
planning going forward.  Once a firm policy has been established and people
are aware of what is expected of them, then naiveity is no longer an excuse.


On Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 7:49 PM, Andrew van der Stock <vanderaj at owasp.org>

> The lack of diversity sits squarely the Board’s shoulders for not putting
> in place requirements on organizers to meet our organizational mission, and
> it’s our fault for not helping the organizers with active diversity
> programs such as reaching out to WIA programs, it’s our fault that we
> haven’t made it clear that 0 women keynotes is not acceptable, and it’s our
> fault that this keeps on happening, and in fact has happened for as long as
> we’ve run conferences.
> We as a Board must address our non-existent governance over these issues,
> and build out our capability to attract submissions from diverse
> communities, and to ensure these under represented communities have
> assistance to submit high quality submissions and actually get an
> opportunity to present at a large conference.
> The current situation is not any one organizational committees fault, and
> it’s clear because every conference organizational committee has in our
> history failed to achieve even 10% gender diversity for over a decade now,
> it’s 100% not their fault.
> It’s our fault. We have to fix this. And we can’t do it by saying the
> status quo is okay. Let’s address this in the next Board meeting. If you
> have ideas on improving the motion so we can get some real change,
> particularly for 2017, let’s get them in there.
> thanks
> Andrew
> On 19 Apr 2016, at 04:40, Jim Manico <jim.manico at owasp.org> wrote:
> Folks,
> I understand why you are concerned and upset over this issue.
> Please be cognizant that the EU PC committee is full of dedicated
> volunteers. Please avoid being accusatory and attacking when approaching
> the EU committee over this. There is already bad blood in the water and I
> hope someone aims to diffuse this, not stoke even more anger over this.
> Proceed gently.
> Aloha,
> Jim
> On 4/18/16 4:44 AM, Matt Konda wrote:
> Andrew,
> I agree that this is unacceptable.
> For additional background, I specifically reached out to the EU conference
> organizers about their selection committee demographics and the response
> was chilling.  I got a message saying that my note was unhelpful and that
> WIA should take care of it.
> I will go through your proposal and hope to be able to help us take some
> action.  I'm not sure what makes sense yet, but I am really glad that you
> are raising this and you have my full support in actively working to fix
> this.
> Matt
> On Sun, Apr 17, 2016 at 11:54 PM, Andrew van der Stock <
> <vanderaj at owasp.org>vanderaj at owasp.org> wrote:
>> Who can tell me which organization’s US conference organizers had four
>> keynotes to fill and managed to fill them with all one gender?
>> Again.
>> WTF is wrong with our processes that this CONTINUES TO HAPPEN?
>> So white hot angry right now.
>> Andrew
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