This post serves as an accompaniment to my lightning talk from PyCon AU 2016
A few months ago I ran a small conference called KatieConf. We had 38 speakers across two tracks, speaking on a wide variety of topics, ranging from robots to automation to poetry to space!
The only limitation for our speakers is that they had to be called Katie, or a name derived from the root Katherine. To promote diversity, the names could start with either a C or a K.
It was held out in Katherine, a small town in the Northern Territory, in Australia, on June 31st 2016.
🎵 30 days has September, April, June, and November…🎵
I make no apologies for making KatieConf. It was a fun little lark, based on a few different factors, including the amount of Katies at conferences I’ve attended, and the amount of times I’ve been confused with another speaker called Katie.
I had so many comments about KatieConf. Some people were quite upset that it wasn’t real. But one of the comments that kept being repeated was “Why don’t we have a SteveConf? Or a DaveConf?”
If you want a conference full of all blokes, go to any other conference.
There are far too many conferences that have issues with under-representation. KatieConf sought to point this out.
People of different genders have very different life experiences, career experiences, perspectives on what they do. Greater range of topics and framing is more valuable for everybody.
Python and Django conferences get this right. PyCon AU 2016 had ~20-25% female speakers. PyCon US 2016 and DjangoCon US 2016 both had around 40%. And DjangoCon Europe 2016 boasted 52% female speakers. This is wonderful. I wish more communities did this.
KatieConf has also had a real world effect. There have been mutterings of an AnaConf or a SarahConf, but there is a JessConf already being organised. Run by Jess Frazelle, it’s to be held on Jessie Island off the coast of Queensland on November 31st 2016 (30 days has September…)
What is not a joke is what PyCon UK have done with the idea. They have a £500 Scholarship from the Django Society UK, which does towards helping fund KatieConf speakers or attendees to attend PyCon UK. This is fantastic!
So, KatieConf 2017.
[Update, see footer]
I can now announce that Katie Conf has been submitted as a potential miniconf for linux.conf.au 2017. If successful, this will mean that KatieConf 2017 will be run in mid January 2017 in Hobart as a part of Linux Conference Australia. This will be co-organised with Jacinta Catherine Richardson and Lana Catherine Brindley, both well respected members of the Australian open source community in their own right.
You can follow KatieConf on twitter or checkout the KatieConf website for updates. Also, @CallbackWomen is a wonderful resource for promoting conferences that encourage diverse speaker speaker lineups, and that promotes female speakers.
Update: KatieConf was accepted as a miniconf for linux.conf.au 2017 as WOOTConf. No longer limited by name, it’s a one-day single track event that will actually properly really be happening January 16, 2017, in Hobart, Tasmania. More information on the website