Attendee Diversity Funding & Mentorship at Tech Conferences

Great way to foster diversity at tech conferences: scholarships. Many members of our communities, especially students or newcomers, don't have the financial means to fund it independently. Consider also focusing on underrepresented, such as women, people of color, people with disabilities, etc.

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  1. A 1st-time attendee can feel awkward at a conference where you don't know anyone, and aren't sure what to expect. They may not know the community customs and worry about whether they'll fit it, be comfortable approaching strangers, or even know how to pick sessions that fit their interests and skill level. Pairing 1st-time attendees with a conference mentor/guide is another great way to foster diversity by making it easier for marginalized people to participate. Guides fill roles such as helping their mentee select sessions, introduce them to members of the community, invite them into conversations, assauge unnecessary worries, be a trusted person to ask "dumb questions" of, etc. In general, be a touchstone. As a guide, you help a newcomer build a network, make friends, and help them get the most benefit from their conference experience. It's an opportunity to meaningfully welcome people into the community. Since 2012, dozens of tech conferences have begun offering programs like these. Here some of the programs offered between June 2014 and February 2016. (P.S. You'll spot several scholarship recipients who've transformed in a year from newcomers into professional developers, and some even returning as conference speakers!)
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