Resources for safer conferences


The MAAWG conference was held in Brooklyn a few weeks ago. Many positive discussions and sessions happened at the conference. But there was an incident of harassment during the conference where one participant assaulted multiple other attendees during late evening activities. I’m not going to speak too much to what happened as I wasn’t there. What I will say is that I am proud of my friends and colleagues who stepped up to make sure that the targets of the harassment made it safely to their rooms. I’m also pleased that the conference pulled the harasser’s badge and banned him from the conference in short order.

This incident did expose some issues with how the conference is collecting and handling code of conduct violations. But that’s nothing unusual. In fact, most good policies include the after-action report to look at ways to improve the process in the future. MAAWG is looking at how to handle things better, moving forward, and that’s what they should be doing.

There’s been much discussion about this across the industry since this happened and a number of people have asked for information and resources on how to handle incidents. As I’ve been participating in these discussions, I’ve found a number of sites that are useful resources. I’m using this post, primarily, as a way to document those resources and make it such that I have a single link I can send to men who ask me how they can help.


Wikis and FAQs

Conference anti-harassment from Geek Feminism. It collects policies from different conferences and talks about what works and what doesn’t.

Code of Conduct 101 from Ashe Dryden

Men who advocate for safer conferences.

The Code of Conduct Jess Noller from Python

Jim C. Hines, and John Scalzi both SF Authors

Other good resources

Actions to take

Why women don’t speak up:  HBR and Ashe Dryden


For myself, a lot of what I’m doing is sharing information with people in different fora. Some of them are public, like this blog post. Others are semi-private fora. Still others are one on one (or one on few) discussions. The group I co-founded, Women of Email is also starting to look into this problem, and I am the sponsoring board member. Given how much success we’ve had getting women speaking at conferences, I’m confident we will make a difference.

Through the course of these discussions, I’ve had a number of men ask what they can do. They want to help but they don’t know how to fix things. I deeply respect this position, but, women don’t know how to fix this either. We don’t have the answers. What I think would really help is for men to start educating themselves and other men. Stop asking women to shoulder the burden of telling you what to do on top of of being targets, of navigating reporting, of dealing with the personal and professional fallout and of figuring out how not to be targeted again.

I know there are other resources out there, I’ve seen them. But I don’t always bookmark what I should. These pages are ones I’ve found helpful over the last few weeks and others I remember. What resources have you found to be helpful and would like to share?



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  • So sorry to hear about the MAAWG incident.

    Just thought I’d share my own experience, as a conference organiser. I had been sceptical about the difference codes of conducts would make: I saw them more as virtual signalling, to make people feel more comfortable. But people told me they thought our (very basic) CoC, and my mentioning of it during the opening of the conference, actually made a difference. (This didn’t concern the kind of things that get people expelled from a conference, but the more subtle things.)

    I doubt this will help you much, but given that it surprised me, I thought it worth sharing.

  • Harassment and assault at conferences is more common than you think, Martijn. Glad to hear your perspective has shifted.

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