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Linuxchix Miniconf

miniconf website: http://conf.au.linuxchix.org/

LinuxChix Miniconf Proposal

Sarah Stokely

Robyn Willison

We propose a one day LinuxChix Miniconf for linux.conf.au 2009; which would be the third consecutive LinuxChix Miniconf, following on from the popular events at linux.conf.au 2007 and 2008.

LinuxChix is a large online women's LUG with a very social aspect. LinuxChix has over 1,000 members and has been running since 1999 under the care of a slowly changing array of volunteers. It was founded in explicit reaction to the hostile "locker room" style online environments that many women report finding in their LUGs and development communities. One day we hope that rationale for its existence will go away, but it doesn't seem to have gone yet.

We have found from the last two LCA conferences that the LinuxChix Miniconf has helped to connect LCA with a large community of women who are users of Free Software. We believe that this connection can only do good things for bringing more women into contact with the broader FOSS community to learn and share knowledge, but also to bring new brains, talents and perspectives to LCA and the FOSS community more broadly.

The previous 2 LCA events have seen the numbers of women increase dramatically over pre-2007 events. We believe this is partly because of the LinuxChix Miniconf. We are keen to build on this foundation, both to offer something new to returning mini-conf attendees, and to encourage new attendees. We're proud to have hosted both international and local LinuxChix at previous Miniconfs, and we hope this traditional will continue in 2009.

While LinuxChix is organising the event, we will welcome presentation proposals from all interested women not just members of LinuxChix. In the past the Miniconf has attracted conference speakers and an LCA keynote speaker as presenters and we will be aiming to keep up this level of quality presentations this year. That said, we feel that encouraging newer or younger members of the community is crucial in bringing new voices to the table and helping each other develop presentation skills, so we will strongly encourage any female developer or student interested in sharing their knowledge or ideas to put forward a presentation for the Miniconf.

The presentations will likely cover a spectrum ranging from technical talks to professional development and community topics. For example, a talk on productivity strategies or how to negotiate successfully in business might fit in the professional development stream, while a community-focused talk might look at how to get involved with mentoring groups which go out to schools and evangelise the benefits of getting girls into IT, or what kind of steps an open source project can take to increase female participation.

Our goal for the day is to ensure a good mix of listening and speaking/networking time (question time is important! as is networking!). We will consider running panel sessions, Q&As, tutorials and workshops as well as the typical one speaker presentations to encourage participation and action.

While LCA is a technical conference and clearly Chix attendees as much as anyone else will want to talk tech, we're also keen to devise ways to involve younger or less experienced LCAers to attend and get involved with the the Miniconf. Perhaps this could be a 'how to' session such as how to set up an open source blog or how to set up a web server. Or it could be a guide to getting involved in an open source project, or how to start hacking on something simple.

In particular, we hope to reach out to local education institutions and business to attract local women to the Miniconf and LCA.

We are also keen to work with the LCA organisers and community in the leadup to the event to ensure that both men and women attending LCA understand that they're welcome to attend and learn from the Chix miniconf.

Who are we?
We're Robyn Willison (Manning) and Sarah Stokely, and we propose to be joint organisers of the Miniconf this year. Robyn assisted Mary Gardiner in organising the Miniconf in 2008, so she has direct experience with this event. She is a hacker for ITShare (www.itshare.org.au) in Adelaide, teaches women about computers by using free software and volunteers at a community centre working on the database frontend & backend she wrote for them. She writes her own training materials for the hardware and software courses she teaches. Sarah has organised events before, including presenting and MCing at conferences. She's also the organiser of Geek Girl Dinners Melbourne. Sarah is a tech journalist and a presenter on RRR radio's technology show in Melbourne so will be helpful in promoting the event.

We hope you like our proposal. Please contact us if you have any further questions. We look forward to working with everyone to make LCA awesome again this year.