At Write/Speak/Code this year we did something new: a public call for proposals for our keynote slots. In creating our CFP we as a conference had a few key considerations that we used to help us craft the CFP:
- Accessibility: The CFP itself should be simple and easy to understand
- Financial assistance: We wanted to communicate to applicants that we will offer support for those selected
- Opportunity: For speakers from underrepresented communities we wanted to emphasize that our conference is particularly mindful of diversity
- Values: Again, our entire conference and all speakers will have to abide by our Code of Conduct
Throughout the CFP our speaker outreach team was asked a few common questions such as: What topics do you want to hear from? Should I speak about a particular technical topic? As a beginner speaker, am I allowed to apply?
Broadly these topics align with the themes of each of our three days; writing for a technical audience, speaking at technical conferences, and contributing to open source software. This year we introduced our Alumna track and added a fourth day that included topics to highlight Career Development and Self Care. Because our conference focuses on actionable steps on advancement, we didn’t seek out talks with technical buzzwords like “big data,” “agile,” or “microservices.” Instead, we took a close look at each applicant’s personal story behind their abstract and compare it to how it aligns to our values defined by our Code of Conduct and how it flowed with our “themed” days.
By the close of our CFP we received 150 submissions! Here are a few stats from the CFP submissions:
Where applicants from
- From six countries – Brazil, India, Romania, United States, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe
- Representing 100 different companies
What type of title applicants have
- Some example job titles – data engineer, data scientist, founder, director of product, developer evangelist, software engineer, vice president of technology, software architect, apprentice developer, senior software engineer, digital product designer, engineering team lead, senior director of quality engineering, frontend developer, backend developer
- 26/150 identified as senior or lead
- 14/150 identified as president or founder
- 6/150 identified as director
- 76/150 identified as software engineer, software developer
Our speaker outreach team painstakingly reviewed each talk, pruning outliers that weren’t applicable for the conference, or simply put weren’t coming from the appropriate voice, such as the men who applied. After ensuring the remaining submissions were on message with our conference, we reflected on the themes attendees were interested in learning more about this year. Finally, we anonymized the submissions and passed them onto a speaker selection committee.
Our speaker selection committee comprised of women coders – those who are women of color, representative of the LGBTQ community, mothers, front end developers, developers from different languages, and developers from different problem spaces (e.g. academia, web development). All of the members of our speaker selection committee have participated as a speaker or an organizer in the past and we believe that these are people who align with our core values and embody them to the fullest.
After receiving the top selections from our speaker selection committee, the speaker outreach team confirmed that selected speakers are representative of the diverse community of women that attend our conference.
Our final keynote speaker selection included two transgender women, two women of color, three women in senior leadership positions, and women who code in over four languages as their primary language.
There were simply too many talks we loved that luckily we were able to add some speakers in non-keynote roles for our alumni and self-care tracks. However, this is but a first step for us at Write/Speak/Code and it our hope to broaden our reach by adding more speaking opportunities to our conference in the future.