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Checking Your Privilege: A How-To for Hard Things

Project: Project Software is Easy, People are Difficult :)

Over the past 3 years, we’ve witnessed the discussion of the role of women and other underrepresented groups in technology grow broader, deeper and louder. From Wired to the Wall Street Journal, we’ve heard the message that we all have a problem. Even more exciting, major tech employers are just starting to respond with hard demographic data to back up years of academic research – and lived experiences – on the gender gap.

So, the first step is admitting we have a problem. But where do we all go from here?

The answer is simple, but the solutions are not: understanding one’s privilege requires hard work. Doing something productive with that understanding is even more difficult. We’ll all require a great deal more empathy for individuals whose lives we’ve never led, whose experiences we’ve never shared and whose challenges are all the same, but still quite different – and often greater – than our own.

In this talk, I’ll provide the audience with a how-to for journeying on the path to greater self-awareness and empathy:

* Understanding your own biases
* Taking the first steps toward leveling up in your interactions
* Having more useful conversations and collaborations with everyone you know

The purpose of this talk is to reexamine the topic through the lens of concrete things individuals can do to check their privilege – and to put it to work serving themselves and others.

Leslie Hawthorn

An internationally known community manager, speaker and author, Leslie Hawthorn has spent the past decade creating, cultivating and enabling open source communities. She created the world’s first initiative to involve pre-university students in open source software development, launched Google’s #2 Developer Blog, received an O’Reilly Open Source Award in 2010 and gave a few great talks on many things open source.

In August 2013, she joined Elasticsearch as Community Manager, where she leads Developer Relations. She works from Elasticsearch’s EU HQ in Amsterdam, The Netherlands – when not out and about gathering user praise and pain points. You can follow her adventures on Twitter.