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The British Ruby Conference has been cancelled, after a row started over allegations the speaker roster at the conference is insufficiently diverse. The row seems to have started with a tweet from Josh Susser, a chap who, among other things, organises the Golden Gate RubyConf. Susser's tweet was as follows: “Nice speaker …

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Meh

Ruby?

...and here I thought all Ruby coders could be classed as I minority.

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Devil

Cultural Enrichment Ruby?

So what about the speakers' religious beliefs and eating habits? Jedis and Vegans want to be there, too!

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Joke

Ruby conference discriminating against Vegans?

Yea, why is the Ruby conference discriminating against Vegans?

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Anonymous Coward

Also, what about

radiation challenged wombats? Are we not people? Oh, right...

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Anonymous Coward

What a prat!

So does this mean we have to have a quota of women, vegans, black, asian, native American, gay, bisexual, transgender, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Coptic, Buddhist, Catholic, disabled Ruby speakers for every event? Perhaps to have a real set of diverse speakers, we ought to have somebody who doesn't even know Ruby at all just to make sure we hit the fuckwit section.

Why does diversity have to be built in from the beginning for a sodding conference? The conference is about Ruby, not about meeting quotas, or political correctness. I marched with the Anti Nazi League in the late 70's, I helped organise LGBT meetings, I helped provide support for people with mental health issues. There's a time and a place for everything and Josh Susser is plain wrong here.

Does anybody really care about this? If I went to an event like this I'd want good speakers, I wouldn't want them selected because they weren't or were male or white or gay or black.

I have two young daughters and I am encouraging them to study science and maths and so far they like it. I expect them to get along based on their merit, not based on some idea that because they're girls they get a free pass.

He needs to butt out, organise what he likes in SF and stop playing the minorities card.

I can't believe he's annoyed me so much I sound like a Daily Mail reader.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What a prat!

I see a tremendous opportunity here for a disabled black asian bisexual transgendered female Jewish vegan public speaker. Knowledge of subject matter optional.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What a prat!

There was a country which used to have that on a national level. It was called Soviet Union and it was instituted by Sergej Bubnov on the orders of Joseph Vissarionovich Jugashvilli (after which he shot him for good measure).

I am not going to go into the motives for the national minority quotas in the USSR education system and what were they used for. Suffice to say that they _DID_ _NOT_ _WORK_. 50 years of providing positive action quotas for the "disadvantaged" minorities did not result in them suddenly developing a string of scientific geniuses and literary giants.

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Only in America

In Soviet America the Presidunce is off-white.

This is to do with their equality laws I believe.

(Last time, they had a chimpanzee so it shows they really mean it.)

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Anonymous Coward

But in Soviet Russia

conference cancels YOU!!

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Re: What a prat!

Could you provide a bit more information about this? It sounds interesting and I'd like to read up on it (I've always had a morbid curiosity about how the soviet economy worked:)

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Re: What a prat!

You've got to have some kind of racist chip on your shoulder if you start checking out the ethnicity of the speakers.

People should get a spot on the podium purely on merit, and nothing else.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What a prat!

I'm disabled, Catholic and have a grandparent from outside the UK. But I'm also a straight white male. Where do I fit in?

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Thumb Up

Re: What a prat!

Nicely put :D

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Re: What a prat!

When I was a director in a large corporate, whose goal seemed to be political correctness rather than making money, I was contacted by HR and told they were 'disturbed' by the fact that my team consisted almost entirely of white males. I asked who they wanted me to sack and heard nothing more. We live in a strange world.

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Re: What a prat!

Nice answer Chris! lol!

If there's one thing HR are more scared of than being seen as non-PC, it's being hit with a wrongful dismissal case!

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Anonymous Coward

I'd be fucked off if I'd have bought travel ttickets and paid for a hotel, regardless of my gender and skin colour.

It strikes me that John Susser is an American (from the Bay Area?) commenting on a UK conference. The UK is wonderfully diverse, but I'm wondering if he's ever visited a British university CS class or an IT company. I've worked in an IT company in the UK equivalent of SF; we only had one girl, no ethnic minorities represented.

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Anonymous Coward

I'd be fucked off if I'd have bought travel ttickets and paid for a hotel, regardless of my gender and skin colour.

Don't worry. I have it on good authority that both attendees got refunds for their coach tickets, and both planned on sleeping rough, as is the Ruby way.

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Trollface

So Full of It (and not IT)

“I don't think adding diversity at the end works. You have to start with it as one of your goals. Who wants to be the token female?”

So the difference between the two approaches would be what exactly? Diversity as an afterthought - you choose the speakers, then add a token female; diversity as one of the goals - you choose the token female first, then proceed with picking the rest of the speakers? I bet the token females feel much better in the latter case.

And the whole point of this particular statement is moot anyway, as there were obviously no token minority representatives on the speaker roster, which makes me think that Mr Susser, whose last name bears an uncanny resemblance to the famous disruptive worm, was merely trolling his British colleague. And quite successfully too.

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Re: So Full of It (and not IT)

I guess the "start with it as one of your goals" approach would be to ask specifically for female / minority developers to present, and then look for after presenters after that. But even if they took that approach, would they have found any qualified candidates?

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Paris Hilton

Re: So Full of It (and not IT)

Agreed.

The _only_ solution is to ask for anonymous briefs on what the speaker will discuss and pick from a shortlist.

Of course, this doesn't work when you want specific people to talk on a subject that they are well known for, as is probably the case here. But screaming "diversity" and getting such a conference cancelled helps who, exactly?

Specifically picking a female or minority speaker to replace someone from the original line-up is (IMO) more racist/sexist than not even noticing you'd done it to begin with.

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FAIL

Positive discrimination

Is still *discrimination* the only way it should be is fuck who has signed up, its open to all, and have the damn conference .

Moronic tard.

Fail, because this is even bigger than an Epic Fail.

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Anonymous Coward

Is it me, or did Susser come across as a sanctimonious dick? I'm not saying he is right or wrong. Token diversity for the sake of it cheapens these sort of things, and is actually quite patronising. Still, that's my minority opinion.

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Yes Minister!

Suddenly want to watch some Yes Minister! Episodes.

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Re: Yes Minister!

As relevant today as it was 20 years.

Which is a pretty damning indictment on our political system if you think about it (see episodes on Trident, freedom of information, corruption etc etc)

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I misread Ruby as Rugby. It got a little strange towards the end.

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Curry

Well - I thought they were talking about curry!

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I was honestly about 3 paragraphs in before I stopped wondering why the Register was so interested in the gemstone business.

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Anonymous Coward

You mean it's not? Bugger

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Coat

Ruby conference goes off the rails

Possible alternate story strapline. That is all.

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How to get Open Source conferences cancelled

This objection seems to apply to most technical conferences, and especially those of the open source variety. All someone has to do now is claim that conference X doesn't have a "representative quota of minorities" on the speaker schedule where "representative quota" is a malleable value (looks like Susser was going for 1/3rd of all speakers - so good luck with that guys)

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Anonymous Coward

I am just so sick of these PC prats who want every sector of life "diversified"... and I say that as a "minority" myself (MYOB which one)

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Ruby developer?

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Anonymous Coward

noooooo... something far more enjoyable

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Back when I was female

When I worked at IBM, doing much of my work through email it turned out that nearly all the Americans thought that I was a girl, even IBM HR believed this and sent hate mail to my boss trying to get me terminated because they'd decided that I might claim maternity benefit.

(If you think bimbo is a term of sexist abuse, you haven't met a male IBM HR)

That's not quite the same as being the recipient of sexism, but it gave me a taste of the situation. At a conference of high end geeks, I altered my talk to mention that the only women in the room were those handing microphones for the audience for them to ask questions.

But ... I've worked for decades as a developer, IT manager and now headhunter and I have to say that of the top tier of s/w devs I know, exactly two are women.

But there are a *lot* of every other type of "minority" in IT at all levels, some UK groups I know in the UK have not one fat white straight guy like me.

As a pimp, I would love to have more smart women, because I do it for the money, and I'd pay money to find a woman that could do hardcore Matlab for a bank, but I'm not holding my breath.

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WTF?

Re: Back when I was female

But isn't Dominic a boy's name?

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Paris Hilton

Re: Back when I was female

The USA (and maybe most nationalities) male has a strong tendency to fantasize and in fantasy land Dominic becomes Dominique who speaks Fortran with a French accent in a maid's outfit.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Back when I was female

Excuse me, I'll be back in ten minutes.

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Re: Back when I was female

"Excuse me, I'll be back in ten minutes."

All that talk of Fortran gets me like that too...

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Thumb Up

Re: Back when I was female

As a female senior developer, who knows a female PHD maths coder, I can tell you we do exist... but yes, sadly, so minor a percentage we don't actually SEE another one all that often!

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Mushroom

When positive discrimination becomes racism

So in the utopian world of Josh we need to start with diversity, which in reality means quotas, which in turn means that if you are a white male, regardless of skills and merit you are at the bottom of the heap because you dont fit this utopian ideal.

All in all he is clearly a bit of a cock, I doubt he will pop down to his local afro carribean association and complain they dont have enough white guys in the place will he?

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So what happens if...

...the top hundred people in their field happen to white guys, just one of those thing randomness can throw up sometimes? Would that mean there couldn't be a conference until the pattern shifted?

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WTF?

Social media

I am not a fan of twitter, haven't been from the start and I think they are twats for the about face on developers, but more seriously, i think it is harmful.

It is an electronic equivalent of a mob.

What Susser said should have been said to friends in a social environment (like an SF coffee shop) then a lively debate could of ensued and everyone would feel happy, no conference cancelled, no-one upset and I would not now be thinking that yet again Twitter has given the world something it could have done without.

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Anonymous Coward

This pisses me off... Is it their fault that the best people to make talks are white men? I happen to work in a team where it is all white men... why? because they were the best for the job...

Shock horror, the UK is a mainly White country, in a mainly white EU...

Shock horror, less Women choose to work in IT!

Shock horror, Men & Women are different!!!

Did you know if you go to china and work in an IT company, most workers are Chinese?

Bloody PC idiots like that need to be culled from our population.....

I never fill in a race section of a form, I leave it blank and refuse to give that information.

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Anonymous Coward

Put "Olympic 100m" or "British Grand Prix"?

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MJF

Enough of this ethnic monitoring nonsense, tell them you're of central African origin.

Like everyone else on Earth...

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My father was of the opinion, and I agreed with him on this, that 'white' is not an ethnic origin as they would have you accept on many forms - and is why I never tick anything with that in. Trying to fit something more accurate into the space you get for 'Other' can be challenging however...

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Tick African ...

... and write "aren't we all" on the dots for 'Other'

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