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We've all seen it. An established conference opens up its registration, allowing attendees to buy passes, en masse, to a three day extravaganza filled with speeches by the industry's emerging thought leaders, networking, and parties. All seems good and well until you notice a couple of things. Number one? The speaker lineup is pretty homogenous. Secondly, the price to attend - far too much for someone in your tax bracket. So what can conferences do to make sure they include the attendees who need and want to attend their events? Ultimately, it comes down to three things: access, diversity, and specificity.
Make Your Conference Accessible
The price to register at a conference can often be in the thousands. And that registration fee doesn't include travel, food, or accommodations. All together, the costs can take a huge chunk out of your savings. There are a few ways to remedy this, however. Conferences like Tech Inclusion live stream their keynote speakers for attendees all over the world and upload them to YouTube. And the Grace Hopper Celebration uses sponsorship money from companies to support women to attend the conference. Another great way to make your conference accessible is to tier registration fees. In the case of Grade Hopper, students pay a reduced fee to attend.
Make Your Conference Diverse
Tech conferences that don't highlight diversity in both their speaker lineup and subject matter will be hard pressed to find a diverse audience. There are a wealth of thought leaders in tech on diversity alone. Take Ellen K. Pao, Leanne Pittsford, Y-Vonne Hutchinson, or Megan Smith -- the list goes on. The thing is, diversity and inclusion go hand in hand. So to create inclusive environments, you need to have diverse spaces that reflect the people you want to attract.
Make Your Conference Specific
Another crucial component of inclusivity is specificity. It's not enough to build it and hope they will come. People need to know their interests and identities are important to conference creators. That's why conferences like Grace Hopper and Lesbians Who Tech are so important and successful. They recognize the need for specificity and meet it.
So I know you're probably thinking, "These are great tips, but what conferences are doing this already?" Don't worry. I've got you covered.
Here are a list of tech conference who are getting diversity and inclusion right:
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