Conference Anti-Harassment Wiki


The Geek Feminism Wiki, a site aimed primarily at people involved in computing and technology, has a “Conference anti-harrasment” page. Brought to my attention by Maarten Steenhagen (thanks!), the site has a sample conference anti-harassment policy, a resource page with suggestions and answers to frequently asked questions, and other information.

In answer to the question, “Why have an anti-harassment policy?” the authors answer:

You want to put on a professional, friendly, reputable conference. You go to great lengths to make sure everyone has a good experience at your conference and wants to come back next year. Then some jerk gives a talk with pornographic slides, or gropes several women, or makes bigoted comments. You were too shocked to do anything about it at the time, and now your conference is all over the blogosphere as “the conference where that guy showed porn.” Unfortunately, this isn’t a hypothetical situation. Plenty of other conferences have run into this kind of problem before.

They add, in the “But I shouldn’t have to do this!” section:

Giving explicit directions to your speakers and participants about unacceptable behavior at a conference may seem unnecessary or insulting – and depending on the size of your conference and your speaker selection and admission process, it may be unnecessary. However, past experience shows that some people do need acceptable and unacceptable behavior spelled out precisely. Some people, including some of those who find basic social interaction stressful, may welcome a concrete list of unacceptable behaviors so they can be more confident that they will not accidentally violate an unwritten rule… Use your judgment on the level of detail needed for your conference, but err on the side of giving your conference participants the information they need to succeed.

Are conference anti-harassment policies needed in philosophy? Or are the size and speaker selection and admissions processes of philosophy conferences generally such that these kinds of policies are “unnecessary or insulting”?

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