Global Diversity CFP Day 2018

53 workshops 🌍

by Peter Aitken

Thursday 15th February 2018

On Friday the 2nd of February the clock was ticking ever closer to 11pm (GMT).


11pm, here in the UK, is 10am Saturday in Australia when the Sydney and Melbourne workshops started the first Global Diversity CFP Day!

It was an incredible feeling of anticipation and excitement that an event, more than a year in the planning, was so close to starting.

This anticipation also came with a very surreal feeling. Having spent a great deal of time organising a worldwide event, it is starting on the other side of the planet and I'm not there. Had all the planning been a dream? Was it really happening?

Then pictures started arriving.

Venue's were set up.

Then people, yes real people, were arriving having tea, coffee and breakfast!





Then Kris and Amanda opened their resepective workshops!

Kris Howard opening Global Diversity CFP Day in Sydney, Australia.

Amanda Dean opening Global Diversity CFP Day in Melbourne, Australia.

A lump formed in my throat and a few tears too. IT REALLY IS HAPPENING!

Then the wave started

Brisbane opened

Then Perth, Australia

Then Singapore

Then Mumbai, India

Then New Dehli, India

Then Kathmandu, Nepal

Then Sylhet, Bangladesh

Then Cape Town, South Africa

Then Accra, Ghana

Having never paid much attention to timezones as New Year is celebrated at different times around the world I was paying A LOT of attention to timezones now!

Sydney Family Photo

After a quick nap some workshops had already finished, while others kept opening in Brussel, Berlin, A Coruña, Santiago, then 8 more in the UK.

Coimbinatore, India Family Photo

Then we travelled over the Atlantic with 17 workshops in the USA and São Paulo and Santiago ready to go too!

San Diego, USA Family Photo

Where did all of this come from?

Back in 2016 as part of the ScotlandCSS and ScotlandJS CFP, we organised a few workshops 3 weeks prior to CFP closing.

We thought "Wouldn't it be good to have one in London, there are lots of people there?" That'd be great. Everyone we asked for help said "Yes!".

Then Dublin, Sheffield and Berlin quickly joined in too!

These workshops had a HUGE impact on the diversity of the CFP applicants, the final speaking line-up and also the attendees. The full write-up can be found here.

If these workshops had such a great impact in encouraging people to participate and apply to speak why not share it with all tech communities everywhere?

And so began an 18 month journey in which everyone kept saying "Yes" to helping make this incredibly positive movement a reality!

What has happened since Global Diversity CFP Day?

Over a 1000 participants worldwide have already started applying to speak at conferences.

Currently three Brisbane workshop attendees have already spoken at meetups!

Congratulations Josh Byrd, Kartik Gupta and Anwesha Chatterjee 🎉

Even bigger news than that is that Jennifer Shehane, who attended the Atlanta workshop, has been accepted to speak at We RISE Tech Conf 🚀 🚀 🚀 🚀

We RISE announcement

Thank you ALL!

Thank you to all the 200+ people who worked incredibly hard and gave up their free time to organise and mentor at workshops around the world. Everyone had a shared vision of supporting people from underrepresented and marginalized groups in tech 💛

Thank you to all the people that provided educational content for these workshops, Raquel Vélez, Sarah Mei, Danielle Barnes, Saron Yitbarek, Melinda Seckington and Jessica Rose 💛

Thank you to the many companies that sponsored workshops by providing venues, food and drinks 💛

Finally thank you to all of the 1000+ attendees that participated in Global Diversity CFP Day. We hope to have played a small part in you having the confidence to raise your voice and share your perspective on a tech conference stage soon and would love to hear more about your journey 💛

Hopefully we'll see you next time!


Peter Aitken

Los Angeles, USA Family Photo

Cat Hawker

Senior Web Developer, BBC Education

Diversity CFP Workshop attendee

Monday 22nd January 2018

I had been to a couple of tech conferences and found them an inspiring and energising experience. I wanted to go to more and I knew speaking would be a way to get my employer to let me do so! Plus being a presenter would give people a reason to come up and start a conversation and save me from awkwardly hanging around by the biscuits at coffee time.

I quite fancied being up on the stage, I just didn’t know what I wanted to talk about or how to get started. So when I was thinking about asking if I could go to ScotlandJS and I saw the workshop advertised on their website I thought it would be a great idea to go along (not to mention it would give me a reason to get out of the house on a winter weekend).

I didn’t know what to expect, but the workshop was super relaxed and friendly. First I chatted with the mentors and other attendees then we watched a video about the applications process, which was really informative. It was great to get sage advice from people who have a lot of experience of both writing and sifting through conference submissions.

Then we got to discussing what we might like to talk about. This was the most useful part of the session for me. I had a vague idea that I might like to talk about accessibility as I’d been learning a lot about it lately and had been surprised to discover that I had soon become the team expert on it at work. Clearly there was a big knowledge gap in the industry and I thought I could help to fill it. However, I’d got it into my head that since there had been a session on accessibility at the previous year’s conference then nobody would want to hear about it again this year.

The workshop facilitator soon banished that self-doubt. He pointed out that most of the people at the conference would not have been the previous year, and the topic is so big that I was very unlikely to come up with exactly the same idea for a twenty minute talk. The mentors assured me that they all felt they needed to know more about it and gave some ideas on particular aspects they were curious about.

I was also worried that I wasn’t really an expert in the subject, just somebody with a bit more knowledge than her peers. Again, the mentors set this fear to rest with the sage advice that often a beginner in a subject is much better at communicating it to other novices than an expert who assumes too much prior knowledge from the audience.

Buoyed up by the enthusiasm people at the workshop had shown for my talk and armed with all the great advice about how to ace the conference submissions process, I wrote up my proposal and applied to speak at ScotlandJS. When I got accepted of course I was absolutely thrilled! People had voted for my talk! Then I was a little terrified: now I had to write it. Thankfully I’d also had loads of great advice about preparing to speak at a conference.

When the day came, I was pretty nervous. I had presented informal talks at work and to small meetup groups where I knew everyone, but standing up in front of 300 people was a different matter entirely. However, I knew I was well prepared for many different eventualities. I had even recorded videos of all my demos to avoid the curse of live coding, and included the screen reader subtitles in case I had any issues with audio playback.

As it turned out, this came in handy! I’d be lying if I said my first conference talk went perfectly. There were plenty of things I wanted to do better next time and one or two carefully rehearsed things that I entirely forgot to say. But the main thing was, I wanted there to be a next time!

I had great fun at the conference, I amazed myself by actually getting on stage in front of 300 people and afterwards my confidence soared. If I could do that, what else could I do? And yes, I did get chatting to people instead of pretending to be really fascinated by the snacks, and found out that a lot of people learned something useful from my talk, which felt fantastic.

Silvia Pina

Backend software developer

Diversity CFP Workshop attendee

Monday 15th January 2018

Ever since I first started attending technical conferences I had the goal of (eventually) becoming a conference speaker. It seemed to be something I would like to do, researching a topic in depth and then presenting it - what an awesome learning opportunity!

I found out about this wonderful website full of resources and encouragement for turning yourself into a speaker, that helped me decide this was really something achievable for me (and for everyone, really, because “We Are All Awesome”).

It took me some time to get started. Well, there is the small matter of public speaking being something I stress inducing for me (still today), and that I feel uncomfortable doing. I am by no means a natural at this!

A turning point for me was hearing about the ScotlandCSS + ScotlandJS Diversity CFP workshop, organized in 2016 in several different locations. I immediately jumped and enrolled in it, as something like this was just the incentive that I needed, and it came just at the right time.

I attended the Berlin workshop. At first, I was not sure what to expect. Maybe some presentations on how to be an effective conference speaker, which we started with - and these were really informative, addressing all my concerns on anxiety in public speaking. But what really made the difference was the encouragement that I got, and above all the practical help in getting together an abstract, first starting with a general template with the whole structure and then assembling the pieces in a coherent text.

I already had some ideas that I could work with, but somehow translating them into a coherent abstract that made the topic seem interesting seemed to be hard to achieve. Having a background both in computer science and psychology, I wanted to speak about topics that bring together both areas of knowledge. And I picked the topic of cognitive bias in software programming.

And so it happened that at the end of the workshop I had an almost complete abstract for a conference talk! Which is something I had never expected to have at the end of the day!!!

A week or two after this, I decided to submit the resulting abstract to ScotlandJS, as the breadth of topics covered by them is wide - and in the end was accepted, so it feels like going full circle.

Even today I still refer to my notes from this workshop, and still use the methodology I learned there to put together an abstract. What I learned there has given me the push I needed to meet the goal of being a conference speaker, and for this I will be always grateful to all the organizers!