Conference diversity is your responsibility

If you organise conferences, we need to talk.

If you have invited me as a speaker to your conference, and I am the only female or ethnic minority speaker, and for some reason I have to pull out, it is not my responsibility to find you another BME woman.

Do not make me feel guilty for screwing up your (already abysmal) gender ratio or panel diversity. Have you considered getting, heaven forbid, more than one woman or minority to speak?

This has happened to me more than 3 times now, and I am tired of it.

When I suggest a male white counterpart, who is capable of giving the talk that I would have given, but even better, then don’t say “no we don’t want that” because not only does it suggest that you didn’t want the content of my talk, it suggests you only wanted me because I tick boxes in the first place.

As if I don’t suffer from enough self doubt already.

If you actually believe that diversity is important at your conference, you won’t pin your hopes of diversity on one speaker. Sky divers have more than one parachute in case the first one fails. People will drop out.

Don’t make your one BME or female speaker feel like they are shouldering the burden of diversity for the entire event. Diversity is your responsibility.


After I published this post, Shappi Khorsandi soon tweeted this:

This is another symptom of this diversity limited approach; getting the last minute call to fill a spot.

I think it’s not too much to ask that organisers have more than one BME or female speaker planned, so if one drops out, it’s not considered a disaster, and there’s no mad rush to fill a spot for fear of having zero diversity.

Plan for people dropping out.

Citizen Beta #23: statistics, fact checking and data journalism

It’s taken me a couple of days to recover from the brilliant Citizen Beta we’ve just had. So much to process!

We were joined by Andy Dudfield from the Office for National Statistcs, Simon Rogers from Google, John Walton from the BBC, and Lev and I showed off some recent Full Fact work.

The audience was made up of journalists, technologists, civil servants and all round amazing folk.

Citizen Beta #23: statistics, fact checking and data journalism

On learning to code

This was a blogpost I originally wrote in 2015. To my amazement, it got to the top spot of HackerNews for a few hours. 

I’m learning to code. I’ve been on again off again with it for about two years now. But I’ve only very recently started to feel like I could actually achieve something. I had a lot of unlearning and confidence building to do first.

On learning to code

Crowdsourced Fact checking

In the current climate of information overload the demand for fact checking is increasing. Factcheckers are often small teams that struggle to keep up with the demand. In recent years, new organisations like WikiTribune have suggested crowdsourcing as an attractive and low-cost way for fact checking to scale.

I believe there’s a role for crowdsourced fact checking, but (so far) it’s not fact checking. Here’s my take.

Crowdsourced Fact checking