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Diversity

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 20 November 2012.
Planet PHP

First up a disclaimer. I don't think I have any answers to offer and I must admit I will probably not actively do much to help improve the current situation. However I do believe it would be great if this would become a non topic but I acknowledge that there is a problem. Like many I don't see myself as part of the problem, maybe I am wrong there. In general the Symfony2 scene is quite un-diverse, at least when it comes to gender. I don't remember ever seeing a women present on a Symfony2 topic at a conference. I think the only one that I have heard speak on Symfony2 is Lorna. Alvaro mentioned that at deSymfony there was a presentation by a female speaker. That being said, skimming over the top 100 contributors I don't see a single female name. Actually just going by memory I don't remember a single PR from a female contributor. I would be surprised if there wasn't at least one, likely there are quite a few. Not remembering is actually quite ok imho, because its not the most memorable thing about a PR what the gender of the contributor was. But I am quite sure that the number of patches from women is a tiny tiny part. I sure hope that the numbers in my head aren't skewed by women preferring to contribute with a male name because they are worried a female name would cause issues.

So why is that? How and where did we fail as a community? I mean I can see that we have not put a lot of emphasis on encouraging non white males (I assume despite being half iranian I also count as a white male???) to submit talks. I am not blaming anyone here for that omission, though I think it might be a good idea to change that. From what I have been hearing the Python community has been doing some exemplary work in this direction. That being said I have no clue how many non-white contributors we have, but lets just stick to gender for now. I am not sure if we have failed in anyway to attract female contributors. Or rather I wonder if there is anything one could reasonably do to attract more female contributors? Maybe something like RailsGirls for Symfony2?

While there are many ways to get chosen for a conference talk, being an active contributor is one of the best ways imho. Obviously just because you are a contributor doesn't make you a presentation super hero, but honestly I couldn't care less. If someone knows their topic I am sure I can learn something. Sure it might not be the most entertaining talk and sure its great to have at least a few head liners at a conference that energize the audience, but to me making the top 50 contributors in an active OSS project like Symfony2 is a pretty solid proof of competence to hold a talk on Symfony2. I really have a hard time seeing a PR being shot down due to the gender of the contributor. And while I have seen sexist comments and behavior at conferences, I have seen close to zero in PRs on github. Actually I cannot remember a single case, but I do acknowledge that I might lack the sensitivity to the issue to notice and remember.

Looking over the lineup for Symfony Live Berlin it seems like half of the speakers are in the top 50 of contributors. Of the rest about half are the lead developers of the project they are speaking on. So yeah being a big contributor seems like a great way to be able to speak at a Symfony2 conference. Note I think I have one more maybe twice been in the committee that chose talks. I think the last time was at least 3, likely more than 5 years ago. I don't think at either occasion I remember anyone making sexist comments or not choosing a female speaker for what I perceived wrong reasons. Actually I don't remember the topic of gender to have matter at all, meaning that there was also no explicit effort to ensure gender diversity. I also do not remember how many proposals from women were submitted or how many have been picked. I also do not know what the ratio of female submissions have been for Symfony2 conferences. I know that especially the Live conferences this year were kinda rushed in many ways, so many didn't have a normal CfP. IIRC Lorna was actually chair for the one in London, which I didn't attend (btw just checked the line up there I do see that there was a female speaker in London).

At any rate, like I said in the beginning, I would love for this to be a non topic. I have enjoyed all the Symfony2 conferences I have attended so far. I have enjoyed the people I have met there. To me the characters I met there have been plenty diverse. Having more women there would just increase the enjoyment because its obvious that we have so far failed to tap into a vast talent pool to

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