EclipseCon Policy… Is There One?

Although particular to gaming cons, this post brings up a good question: what policies do Eclipse conferences espouse that protect (woman) attendees from unwanted interactions? Although I haven’t had my ass groped at EclipseCon I have had some experiences that have left me uncomfortable and a little shaken. I’m not alone here either. I’ve heard stories from at least one other woman attendee relating similar experiences. Being the stubborn loner that I am I never reported them but honestly, if I had wanted to, I’m not sure where I would have reported them too.

Given that we’re typically outnumbered by a very large margin, tech conferences have the potential to be an awkward place for women to be, particularly the shy and introverted ones like me. After a cursory inspection of the EclipseCon and Eclipse Summit websites, I can’t find any policies relating to interpersonal relations (or anything else) whatsoever. Would it be reasonable to expect this from our conference organizers?

I don’t intend this to come off as a flame to either conference or its attendees. The vast, VAST majority of attendees are civil, courteous, intelligent and thoughtful (even Steve) but there is always the possibility of a bad apple. I know from personal experience it would have been reassuring to know there was a policy in place and somewhere to turn if a situation occurred at a conference.

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6 thoughts on “EclipseCon Policy… Is There One?

  1. Jared

    Great idea. Personally as a male game and tech conference attendee, it’s generally less an issue for me. However, as my daughters grow up and may eventually become conference go-ers, it would be wonderful to have these kinds of safegaurds in place.

    It seems kind of like affirmative action… as in provisions should be in place at least until the conditions change sufficiently. Such that a policy should be reviewed periodicaly. Although, throughout history this deviant strand of males seems to always be present.

    Maybe in 20 years the gender proportions would balance out creating an environment that has a natural defense.

    Anyways nice post.

  2. Bjorn Freeman-Benson

    You are correct that we do not have written guidelines on interpersonal relations on the EclipseCon or Eclipse Summit Europe websites. (a) I’m not sure it would help (because the kind of people who behavior inappropriately tend not to follow rules anyway); (b) it would be hard to be complete and I’m sure those people would use the incompleteness as an excuse; and (c) I’m not sure I’m the right person to write them anyway.

    However, if you, or any other person of any gender, have issues with other people at either of our conference, you can contact Mike or myself or any of the “blue shirts” (who happen to be all women). I have escorted people off the premises a couple of times already for various reasons and I will not hesitate to do it again. (In one case, I even took the issue up with the person’s manager and I know that **** hit the fan.)

    Inappropriate behavior is wrong, written guidelines or not.

  3. Wayne

    Hi Kim. This makes me sick and angry. To think that this sort of Neanderthal behaviour exists at EclipseCon…

    I will volunteer to work on a policy and procedures for dealing with this sort of thing.

  4. pookzilla Post author

    Bjorn: a policy like isn’t so much for the offender but for the offended. It’s a clear articulation for the offended that the conference organizers don’t think it’s acceptable and that someone will listen if there is a complaint. It also tells them who to talk to, which isn’t always clear. It doesn’t make your job any easier, but that’s not necessarily its purpose…

    Wayne: awesome! Way to be proactive, man. :)

  5. Kim Moir

    Kim, I’m very happy that you brought this up – it’s a serious issue that is often overlooked because (unfortunately) women are such a minority at Eclipsecon. I’m glad that Wayne will be writing a policy to address it.

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