Vesna Manojlovic

Diversity Matters at RIPE 83

Vesna Manojlovic
Contributors: Alexandra Vos
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Fostering diversity and inclusion on a whole variety of different fronts has long been a big part of the work that goes into preparing RIPE Meetings. Here's a look at what diversity means at RIPE 83.

As organisers of RIPE meetings and a secretariat for the RIPE community, we at the RIPE NCC take our role in fostering diversity in meeting participants seriously. Accessibility is one major component of diversity and inclusion and the RIPE community has been excelling in enabling asynchronous and remote participation in the decision making processes.

Diversity Then

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we provided live video stream and enabled real time remote chat comments and questions, which were read aloud to the presenter by RIPE NCC staff. We hired stenographers to take notes - very important for shared understanding when we have a mix of native and non-native English speakers. Recordings and slides from all presentations were made available super-quick (the same day), so that people who couldn't be physically present would have a chance to approach the speakers the next day via chat or social media. And we've always published daily meeting reports for those who only have time for the "executive summary”. This also enabled the participation across multiple time zones.

Also, since 2016, the RIPE NCC and the RIPE PC have implemented many of the recommendations made by the Diversity Task Force. This has resulted in a whole bunch of different initiatives and events around RIPE Meetings:

Diversity Now

Since RIPE Meetings went virtual, starting with RIPE 80, we've been organising a very different kind of event. Many barriers for diverse participants have been removed:

  • The need to take the time away from work or family has been decreased
  • Cost of travel, accommodation and conference ticket has dropped to ZERO
  • Fear of speaking in person in front of the live audience (who could be hostile; or speaking having an “imposter syndrome”) has been alleviated by normalisation of video-talks

Some of the advantages of the in-person meeting have been lost, though. While I am happy that virtual events are good for increasing diversity, I am hoping that the pandemic will be over soon; and that we can learn these lessons and implement them In Real Life.

The RIPE Working Group Chairs as of the closing plenary at RIPE 82. RIPE Working Groups are always on the lookout for new volunteers from across the community to fill these important roles!

Join RIPE 83: Promoting Diversity Provisions

Please do come and join us at RIPE 83 from 22-26 November. Our upcoming meeting is still:

  • Gratis
  • Open
  • Virtual

You can find a list of all the initiatives and activities that have been put in place to foster diversity at RIPE 83 on our website. Here's an overview:

  • We want you to feel safe, even if you are different from “majority”
  • We offer free child care
  • We accept video-talks
  • We offer mentoring
  • We have, as role models, women in leadership positions:
    • RIPE Chair : Mirjam Kühne
    • RIPE PC Chair: Franziska Lichtblau
Franziska Lichtblau (RIPE PC Chair) and Mirjam Kühne (RIPE Chair)

You Can Contribute Too!

  • Apply to give a talk! Working Group sessions and lightning talks are still open for proposals!
  • Apply to be a Working Group chair - and cross-connect RIPE with your own community!
  • Join the Diversity Task Force / mailing list

Beyond Diversity: J.E.D.I.

It’s been 10 meetings ago that we’ve started actively working on increasing gender diversity. Right now, my focus is on moving towards follow-up elements: Inclusion, Equity & Justice! More about that in next article(s) !

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About the author

Vesna Manojlovic is Community Builder at RIPE NCC. Vesna joined the RIPE NCC as a Trainer in 1999. In 2003, she took responsibility for developing and delivering advanced courses, such as RPSL, Routing Registry, DNSSEC and IPv6. In 2008, she lead efforts to establish IPv6 RIPEness as a measure of IPv6 deployment among LIRs. In 2011, she joined the Science Division as Manager of the Measurements Community Building team; in 2015 she moved to Communications Department as Senior Community Builder, with a focus on organising hackathons. Vesna gives presentations at many technical conferences and workshops, and enjoys visiting hackerspaces. Vesna received a Batchelor of Sciences Degree in Computer Science and Informatics from the School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade. She has three children.

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