Next Conference

This week I spoke at NextDoor. I don’t have a verbatim record, but this is what I said, as close as I can recall. I spoke about Thinking like a Tester and being strategic about where we look for bugs. I was wrapping up by pointing out that our biases create blind spots that we need to compensate for, to find the bugs that affect people who are different from ourselves, to make our apps better for everyone. Then I took a deep breath and went off-script…

This room is full of guys. I know you didn’t find women interested in this conference and take away their tickets, but you have a responsibility to bring diversity to the next conference.

It could be as simple as telling someone you’re coming to the conference. They might just need to know that they’ll know someone at the conference, someone will eat lunch with them. And if you don’t know someone who’s underrepresented in tech, maybe that is your next step.

If you do know someone, ask them what would help. Maybe it’s financial. You probably can’t fund someone’s entire cost yourself, but maybe your local meetup could pool together to set up a scholarship.

Maybe your responsibility is to talk to your manager, and make sure that everyone on the team is getting to go to conferences.

To make great apps that are usable by everyone, delightful for everyone, we need to bring diversity to conferences.

Applause broke out. I realized I was starting to cry, and didn’t want to resume my original talk. I clicked past the last couple points, invited folks to attend a testing lab at AltConf the next day, and said “I’m done.” In the hallway, a man approached, and thanked me for both the testing talk and the challenge at the end.

So what will you do?

I watched his face as he seriously considered my words.

You don’t have to answer me now, but next time I see you at a conference, I will expect an answer.