2015 Ally Skills Tutorial at ICFP


To apply to attend the Ally Skills Tutorial, please complete the application on Google Forms. For more details, please consult the FAQ.

About the Ally Skills Tutorial

Please save the date for the 2015 Ally Skills Tutorial, brought to you by the Association for Computing Machinery and SIGPLAN (a Special Interest Group of ACM that focuses on Programming Languages) in partnership with the Ada Initiative. Admission to the tutorial is free for all attendees of ICFP or affiliated workshops or symposia, thanks to generous financial support from ACM/SIGPLAN.

The Ada Initiative (TAI) is a non-profit organization that helps women get and stay involved in open source, open data, open education, and other areas of free and open technology and culture. TAI welcomes women of all kinds, and specifically welcomes trans women and genderqueer women; they strive to be an intersectional social justice organization. The 2015 Ally Skills Tutorial will be taught by TAI co-founder Valerie Aurora (former Executive Director, current Director of Training).

The Ally Skills Tutorial teaches men simple, everyday ways to support women in their workplaces and communities. Participants learn techniques that work at the office, in classrooms, at conferences, and online. The skills we teach are relevant everywhere, including skills particularly relevant to open technology and culture communities. At the end of the tutorial, participants will feel more confident in speaking up to support women, be more aware of the challenges facing women in their workplaces and communities, and have closer relationships with the other participants. This tutorial will be tailored to the ICFP community and intended to be useful for those working in academia, in industry, and as open-source volunteers. Allies are people who are not themselves part of a particular group, but support people in that group. Men can be allies to women and non-binary-identified people in technology, if they choose to be. This tutorial is designed for male allies, but people of all genders are welcome to attend, and many of the skills transfer to supporting people in racial, sexuality-based, ability-based, and other marginalized minorities in computer science.

We especially encourage faculty members and people in a leadership role in industry or open source to attend; the tutorial is open to people at all levels: independent volunteers and researchers, undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, faculty members, engineers working in industry, and managers working in industry (not an exhaustive list).

When and Where

The Ally Skills Tutorial at ICFP will be held at the conference venue, the Hyatt Regency Vancouver (655 Burrard St., Vancouver, BC V6C 2R7, Canada) on Sunday, August 30, 2015 from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM (Pacific Time Zone).

About the Organizers

  Valerie Aurora (instruction)
Valerie Aurora Valerie Aurora is teaching this event. Aurora is the Director of Training, co-founder, and former Executive Director of the Ada Initiative. With co-founder Mary Gardiner, she created and implemented projects like the Ada Initiative conference anti-harassment policy, now adopted by hundreds of technical events. The Ada Initiative anti-harassment policy is the basis for the ACM's conference anti-harassment policy. Aurora created and teaches the Ada Initiative Ally Skills Workshop, which teaches allies simple ways to support women in technology.

Aurora, an experienced software engineer, was a leading file systems developer, researcher, and consultant for over a decade. She invented several new file systems concepts, including a widely used power-saving feature in file systems called relative atime, and co-founded the Linux Storage and Filesystems Summit. Her contributions to the field were recognized by invitations to speak at or serve on the program committees for many top file systems and open source conferences, including USENIX File Systems and Storage Technology, OSCON, and linux.conf.au. Her contributions to open source software were recognized with the O'Reilly Open Source Award in 2013. Aurora holds a double B.S. in computer science and mathematics and is based in San Francisco, California.

  Tim Chevalier (logistics)
Tim Chevalier Tim Chevalier has been attending ICFP for the past 15 years and has previously worked as a software engineer applying Haskell, Erlang and Rust in industry at Heroku, AlephCloud Systems, Mozilla Research, and Planning Systems. He did graduate work at Portland State University and holds an M.S. in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley. Tim is handling logistics for this event.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can attend this tutorial?

This tutorial is open to anybody who is registered for ICFP 2015 or for at least one of the
workshops and symposia co-located with ICFP.

Why do we need to have a tutorial like this at ICFP?

n.b. The following represents the opinion of the organizer and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the ACM or of the ICFP conference committee. The same applies for all content in the tutorial itself.

The Ally Skills Tutorial is happening for at least four reasons:

  1. We may feel that our community is civil and welcoming, but the numbers show otherwise. All you need to do is to look around at the audience during any ICFP keynote to notice who's missing. If women, as well as people in many other marginalized groups, are absent, that is because the community is doing something to make them feel unwelcome. This process is usually unintentional, but it can be countered through intentional action, like with tactics that attendees of this tutorial will learn.
  2. We may feel that our community is civil and welcoming, but it will not stay that way without intentional effort. By attending the tutorial, you will learn how to maintain the legacy of acceptance and humility that many of the leaders of the functional programming community have created, and how to inspire the new generation of functional programmers to pursue their enthusiasm for beauty and elegance while leaving their sexism and misogyny at the door.
  3. Throughout the field of technology, a reactionary wave of misogyny has been gaining strength in recent years -- for background, read Kathy Sierra's essay "Trouble at the Kool-Aid Point" and Zachary Jason's Boston magazine article on GamerGate, Game of Fear. (Content note: both articles vividly describe harassment and stalking of women, as well as domestic violence.) The initial targets of this reactionary movement were women in the video game industry, but it is spreading to target all women in technology. Even though functional programming is a field with strongly academic roots, as we achieve success in industry we become more vulnerable to the problems with gender-based, race-based, and sexuality-based hostility that beset the technology industry.

    For further reading, the comments on a Reddit thread about this tutorial should provide all the evidence needed as to why this tutorial is sorely needed. Some of the commenters may be trolls with no real connection to the functional programming community, but others may be your students, your colleagues, and your open-source collaborators. What happens on the Internet also happens in real life, both because the Internet is real life and because people who are actively sexist and misogynist find ways to enact their views even in contexts that aren't as disinhibiting as an Internet comment thread.

  4. Relatedly, the men's rights movement (MRM) (recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group based in the US) has had a longstanding influence on a subset of the same group of bright, alienated young men who often find a place to apply their talents in fields based on mathematics and logic. The MRM promotes hate for women and for any men who do not fit into a rigid set of behavior-based stereotypes. The MRM must be taken very seriously: for example, it influenced Elliot Rodger to commit the 2014 Isla Vista murders (content note: gendered violence against women, up to homicide). As functional programming picks up more interest, especially from people who are already in technology, faculty members and managers need to strengthen their abilities to build professional communities that welcome all people while declining to tolerate behaviors that drive marginalized people out.

Are there a limited amount of spaces available for this tutorial?

Yes. In order to keep the tutorial based on small-group participation, we are limiting attendance to 50 people.

Why does the tutorial description emphasize men as the audience (e.g. "The Ally Skills Tutorial teaches men simple, everyday ways to support women in their workplaces and communities")?

We understand that many women in computer science have an unofficial second full-time volunteer job advocating for their right to be in their professional field and for other women's right to thrive in it. Asking women to do more unpaid labor to promote diversity is not a way to bring about equity.

Men (more specifically: people who both self-identify as men and are consistently accorded male privilege by other people) are the primary, though not the only, beneficiaries of structural sexism, and men have the power both to perpetuate sexism and to undo it. We are promoting this tutorial primarily to men in the FP community because we believe that's the most fair and most effective way to spread knowledge about how to resist and unmake structural sexism. Anybody who wants to attend the tutorial, regardless of their gender, is welcome and encouraged to apply.

How do I apply for this tutorial?

Please fill out the application on Google Forms (3 questions; should take 5 minutes or less to fill out). Filling out the application is not a guarantee that you will be included.

When will I know whether I have been accepted to participate in the tutorial?

We will notify all applicants as to whether their application has been accepted or rejected by July 15, 2015. At our discretion, we may choose to notify some accepted applicants earlier. Edited to add: The deadline to register has been extended to August 15, 2015.

How do I register for this tutorial?

We will email accepted applicants with a registration code to use on the official ICFP registration system, which will list the ally skills tutorial as a co-located event.

If more than 50 people apply, how will you choose who attends the tutorial?

The last question in the application requests a brief statement (can be as short as 2 or 3 sentences, or longer if you prefer) about what being an ally means do you, why you want to attend the Ally Skills tutorial, and where you will be able to apply the skills you learn. If we receive more than 50 applications, the organizers (Valerie Aurora and Tim Chevalier) will decide which applications to accept.

If fewer than 50 people apply, is every applicant guaranteed admission to the tutorial?

No. The organizers (Valerie Aurora and Tim Chevalier) reserve the right to exclude any applicant for any reason, with no obligation to provide an explanation.

Will the tutorial be subject to a code of conduct?

Glad you asked! As an ACM/SIGPLAN event, the Ally Skills Tutorial will be subject to the SIGPLAN Conference Anti-Harassment Policy and the ACM policy against harassment. During the tutorial, if you are concerned about a code of conduct violation, please talk to one of the organizers (Valerie Aurora and Tim Chevalier), who have the right to exclude any participant from the tutorial who is violating the anti-harassment policy. During or afterward, you may contact the ICFP workshop co-chairs, Tom Schrijvers and Nicolas Wu, if you are not comfortable talking to the Ally Skills organizers. You also have the option of talking to the other ICFP conference organizers if you have concerns.

Will the tutorial be videotaped?

No. The ally skills tutorial is heavily participation-based and it is important that the tutorial be a safe space in which participants may admit ignorance and make mistakes without fear of reprisal. However, the full curriculum for the tutorial is available online under a free documentation license.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please contact Tim Chevalier: tjch@acm.org
Last updated 2015-05-22