Thursday, 24 October 2013

In which I am profoundly moved...

Two days ago I wrote about gender equality in constraint programming.

I am not joking when I say that I can't remember for some years being as excited about a work email as when I got the email from the CP 2014 organisers that they would institute an anti-harassment policy and look into childcare possibilities.  The very next day after my post.  I want to thank the CP conference organisers for their incredibly rapid and positive response.

Similarly I've been profoundly moved by the supportive comments made by others that I emailed. Not just supportive but coming up with other ideas of how we can improve, and reporting cases in the past where disadvantaged members of the community have been helped (which have not been publicised and for which I won't go into detail.)

As well as happy in itself, this makes me thrilled to part of such a welcoming community. I also hope we can be more open about some of these things, both so that people see how welcoming constraints is, and also so that people see that help might be available for them, who might otherwise not have thought to ask.

In terms of the harassment policy itself (of course still to be written), let me say right away that I absolutely agree that all forms of harassment are unacceptable, including based on gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, age, amongst others.  These should absolutely be included in the policy.

On facebook, a couple of people I respect criticised me for going public with my post instead of having this conversation in private.   (Obviously I won't be naming them here since they approached me in private, inasmuch as facebook is private.)  Certainly I would understand if the people I emailed felt hurt, though none of them have expressed this to me.

But here's the thing.  This is too important to do in private. I posted this in public because I wanted women to know that people in other communities would no longer stand by. Hence this twitter exchange:

But here's another thing.  I actually am approaching other people in private in other communities. I did feel however that I have to stand up in the community I'm in and say: yes, I am a part of a community which needs to be more publicly welcoming to everyone.   Part of my thrill over the last day has been in finding out just how welcoming constraints is, so there is less that needs to be changed and more that needs to be shouted about.

Obviously if anybody things anything I've said is wrong or unfair, or shares private information inappropriately, I do hope you will criticise me, either in public or private, and kudos to my friends for criticising me when that is what they felt.  

But finally, let me say one thing I completely agree with my friends about. It would be quite wrong if I got the credit for CP adopting policies.  At most I'd deserve credit for suggesting it. But anyone can suggest anything. Absolutely the relevant CP organisers deserve credit for making a move which will help women and other disadvantaged groups in our community.

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