(Photo by Flickr user William Murphy, used under a Creative Commons license)
The lack of racial and gender diversity is a persistent issue in tech. One of its most obvious illustrations: check the speaker lineup for any given conference in the industry, and you’re likely to see a whole bunch of white men. It’s something our sister site Technical.ly Philly has called out more than once, and as the issue rises to prominence, more people within the industry are working to fix it.
Iheanyi Ekechukwu, a Brooklyn-based software engineer at Soho-based cloud computing company DigitalOcean, is tackling the issue by compiling a list of underrepresented speakers as a repository on GitHub. He announced the list on Twitter, encouraging others to contribute to it. It reminds us of the @WritersOfColor project, with a tech bent.
Tired of lack of diversity at conferences? I am! I created this repo as a directory for underrepresented speakers: https://t.co/heN2FFzsh2
— Iheanyi Ekechukwu (@kwuchu) September 5, 2016
Ekechukwu’s tweet sparked a lengthy discussion (at least, by Twitter standards) on the best way to diversify tech conference lineups.
Matteo Collina, a software engineer in Italy, countered that conferences should do a better job of encouraging underrepresented speakers to submit proposals rather than having to reach out to them after the fact. He and Ekechukwu batted around additional ideas, such as a list of conferences that are particularly encouraging of diversity.
This is likely an issue to be addressed from several angles. Many others have compiled lists of women and people of color in tech. Catt Small, our Brooklyn Technologist of the Year, wrote a step-by-step guide to becoming a good speaker. And Sarah Milstein, the Fort Greene-based co-founder of Lean Startup Productions, has some detailed thoughts on how conferences can put together a diverse group of speakers.
Here’s hoping Ekechukwu’s list adds to the conversation.