Strange Loop thoughts

Ninety women, people of color, and people with disabilities attended Strange Loop this year who would not have otherwise been able to afford to attend.

There were also 21 women speakers and workshop leaders.

First-time attendees had a lunch with Conference Guides to orient them to the conference.

Women’s attendance rose from 6 to 12%. Attendance by people of color and Latinos increased, but not enough for me.

A Duty Officer was added to the conference staff to enforce the Code of Conduct.

A women’s event was held  that was attended by 60 women.

The talk proposal committee was half women.

The main theater talks were live-captioned, making that programing more accessible.

When we first began planning Strange Loop this year, we engaged Ashe Dryden to help us come up with a plan to increase diversity at Strange Loop. She listened to what had been done in the past and what our goals were for this year. Then she crafted a plan based on that. She provided a thoughtful, sensitive, and thorough plan to move the needle on diversity and help everyone have a good experience at the conference.

I took that plan and made a list of the steps included. I assumed Alex Miller and I would prioritize them and decide what we could actually pull off. Alex said we should do all of them. There were 58 items on that list. Plus, Alex did many things beyond what was on that list to make the conference more accessible and comfortable for all involved.

The best thing I have heard from many people at the conference this year is how included they felt at the conference. That makes all of this effort worth it to me. We still have a ways to go. I want even more people from underrepresented groups in tech – not just women – to attend, speak, run the conference. I want the conference to be even more amazing. I want to think of even more, creative ways for everyone at the conference to have a great time, learn, share, push the boundaries of computing. And I want these changes to spread throughout our industry.

Many thanks to the sponsors – Strange Loop attendees and companies – who sponsored scholarships:


  • Mason Stewart

    Congrats to you and the entire team. The conference was one of the best I’ve ever attended. Both the efforts to improve the diversity, and the success of those efforts, was clear and encouraging. Great work!

  • Blake Meike

    What an amazing job you folks did! I couldn’t agree more: it felt so different, so inclusive, so warm.

  • Lynn Langit

    I have attending many, many open source developer conferences over the years – this year’s Strange Loop was NOTICEABLY better for me because of your efforts to improve diversity. Thank you.

  • bridget

    Thanks, everyone, for the kind words. I noticed a marked difference in tone this year, also. We still have a lot of work to do, and I hope it keeps on getting better and better.

  • Tim McNamara

    I guess you’ve made a decision not to reveal the items in your list, but I would be extrememly interested to seeing those 58 items. Any suggestions to people building their own?

  • bridget

    Hi Tim. Some of the things we did are listed in my post, so that may give you a good start. My main piece of advice to those running conferences who want to get started reviewing what they can do to make their conference more inclusive is to hire a diversity consultant. We did, and it made a huge difference. What a particular conference needs to do depends on their goals, community, audience, etc. This post is also a good place to start:

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