Monday, January 6, 2014

Make presentation selection difficult for EuroSTAR 2014

I had the pleasure of joining Michael Bolton, Bart Broekman, Alan Richardson and Rikard Edgren in EuroSTAR program committee last year. I did not realize I was the only woman in that group - as gender has never been an issue to me - before we discussed gender as part of the criteria to fill in the keynote slots. That discussion was quite painful for me, as it left me in months of questioning (I never asked!) whether I was chosen to program committee on merit (which I know I have and shouldn't question) or by gender. I made a commitment to myself never want to experience that again, but with help of three amazing women I managed to put that idea past me: Ru Cindrea helped me focus my energy on the positive, Fiona Charles helped me see that outspoken criteria might not be the most relevant in changing state of affairs and Alexandra Casapu put the whole thing past me sharing that while I needed to suspect my gender as selection criteria, she had been told so on occasions.

I strongly believe people should be speaking conferences because of their merits, not because they are the appropriate gender. If you have a good story and you can deliver it well, if it teaches the listeners something that they need and want to hear, it should be on the slots. To create a conference with great presentations, you need a variety to choose from. You need a bit of healthy competition, striving to make your story relevant in contents and wrapping, and that's what the call for presentations tends to be about.

We made a commitment in EuroSTAR 2013 with Rikard Edgen, that both of us would strive to make the selection of the best paper award challenging for program committee of 2014. Nothing to spice things up like a positive sense of competition - where we can help each other to make the selection hard as both would be polished and relevant. So I better get on with my work on the talk and then the paper to be on the competition.

So, please take this as an invitation to join me in making the work of the program committee 2014 hard. When there's too many great talks suggested, it takes more to build the program. But it also creates a conference that takes us forward. I would hope to see a mix of consultants and non-consultants. But in particular, I'd like to see that gender is not raised as a criteria with the abundance of both genders in the proposals. For that, I'd hope there will be many and again many women submitting - just as there should be many and again many men submitting. There's equality in testing, let that be visible in the submissions.

If I can help you with your proposal, let me know. I'd be happy to. The testing field needs its newcomers and its seasoned speakers alike to bring in new and relevant contents. I've had the privilege of introducing dozens of new speakers in Finland, stemming from private discussions with just a little of encouragement to share the great stories. We all have what it takes. Let's just share, in call of presentations, what we're into sharing right now. The good stuff needs to be out in the open.