Diversity and inclusion

30th November 2023

At 6 p.m.:

KARLA LIDDLE‑WHITE: Hello, everyone. My name is Carla Liddle White, I am from the RIPE NCC and I am moderating this session today. Thank you everyone who is in the room, at home and at the local hubs, thank you for being part of this. This is the diversity, equity and inclusion session and we have, I think a brilliant line‑up of presentations for you today.

We have got some lightning talks, so we have got about five minutes‑ish lightning talks for you today and after each we can have discussions and questions, keep it a bit free‑flowing but within the time. So we have got diversity at RIPE meetings with Gergana, my colleague from the RIPE NCC, we have got giving credit accurately improves diversity, care in and for system administration work with and roasting the current RIPE meeting with Anika and Maria and finish off with at RIPE meetings with Sasha.

GERGANA PETROVA: I am community development manager at RIPE NCC, and as part of community development efforts we are trying to improve the diversity at RIPE meetings, so in the next few minutes I'm going to show you some statistics that I managed to take from our meeting software.

While I am waiting for the slides, I am going to focus on some diversity aspects, there's many diversity aspects of course, the three that I am going to focus on during this presentation is academics, how many people from academia are coming to RIPE meetings versus people from other industries, how many new people are coming to our meetings as percentage of the total attendees, and finally attendance of women.

So, yes, moving on to my first section, academics, why is it important to us? Looking at the history of the RIPE community and the history of the Internet as a whole, let's say 30 years ago the composition of the RIPE community and the RIPE meetings was quite different; almost, actually even more than 50% of the attendees were coming from academia and they had a lot more involvement as a percentage than at the moment. Why? Because even though the absolute numbers of academics has been increasing, the absolute numbers of other attendees has been increasing even more because, for example, for‑profit companies have a lot more financial resources to send people to the RIPE meeting.

So, an overview of how many students, not academics in general, but students, you can see that the absolute numbers, this averages to about 12 people per RIPE meeting. How I measure this, we have a special ticket for students, €50, reduced rate and so basically I go in the meeting software and how many people have selected that option. For the online meetings during Covid, I don't have data because that option didn't exist, the ticket cost zero, the average that you see is without those meetings.

So, about 2% of meeting attendees are students.

What we do for students, I already mentioned the reduced ticket of €50. In addition to that, in the past two years we have stepped up outreach to local universities, why local universities? Because actually, the €50 ticket is the smaller financial burden, the higher financial burden is paying for flights, for accommodation to come to the meeting, so by reaching out to local students, that financial burden is minimal.

We also organise online session, three weeks before the RIPE meeting, where the RIPE Chair introduces the RIPE community and we also have a few other technical presentations.

And as of basically post‑Covid, the RIPE Chair team has approved 15 free student tickets. So when we are reaching out to those local universities, we basically say, yes, we remove the financial burden at all from attending the RIPE meeting and those tickets we distribute on a first‑come/first‑serve basis.

Moving on to academics in general, you can see on the slide the absolute numbers, so this includes the students and also the people that we bring. So 54 on average per meeting, you can see that during the pandemic we have some of the highest attendance as a percentage of the total of academia, the last two virtual meetings it was 10.5% so that's one of the highest. On average the percentage is 8.5 of the total meeting attendance come from academia. And I am not sure exactly what happened in Berlin and Rotterdam so these are two of the last three, the attendance as percentage is lower, I don't know if this is a trend or just straight after the pandemic it was a little bit more difficult for academics to travel due to restrictions of their universities, I don't know. In the next few years I will see if this persists or post pandemic fluke.

What we do for academics, the RACI, that brings academics with useful research to present so we fund their travel and accommodation and the meeting ticket. We also organise a session for academics and also NRENs, this time it took place on Tuesday, it's a parallel event to the RIPE meeting, just for people to get to know each other from the same industry.

We also host academic sessions at universities, so usually that's either online or if we are any way in that city due to some other event we combine it like this. This year we have stepped up a lot efforts, in that we have 15 sessions that we have hosted. And yeah, if you have any connection with the professor who might be interested in giving us the floor, please let us know.

And yes, we also sponsor and attend a number of academic conference, in particular our researchers.

All right. Moving on to newcomers. Here are the numbers. First, the absolute numbers and then as a percentage. So on average 182 people per RIPE meeting are newcomers, the way that I see that is from the ‑‑ this is my first RIPE meeting tick box on the registration page which you saw when registering. For the two ‑‑ the first two virtual meetings we didn't have that box in the registration, that's why you don't see the data, for the other two we do have it. Interestingly enough the meeting fully online did not mean more newcomers, it actually, as a percentage, we see that it's some of the lowest, around 21%. So basically, being online just encouraged more people to come back to the RIPE meeting.

And yeah, in general, it fluctuated between 20 and 30% of newcomers. To be honest, I am not sure if that's good or bad, I am curious to hear your ideas, what we do for newcomers, once they come, once they register, so we have the mentorship programme for them where we match them with an experienced community member, they can introduce them to what the RIPE meeting is about, but also some other key people in the community. We have the meet and greet lunches and the meet and greet desk, we organise two newcomers' sessions, one is a week before the RIPE meeting and one just before the Opening Plenary, the week of, and we have the newcomers reception.

The one question that I have for this session, for brainstorming, is actually how we get to the point that they register for the RIPE meeting so once they register we know to take care of them but how do we promote the meetings so that more people join, I would like to have some brainstorm after my talk on that.

All right. Let me just quickly see how I am doing with time. Roughly halfway.

So women, some statistics on women's attendance at the RIPE meetings. Again, you can see the absolute numbers and the percentages. On average, we have 98, so just under 100 women per RIPE meeting, and as a percentage that is just below 15% so 14.95.

Interestingly enough, during the pandemic, so if you see the virtual ones, 82, 83, there was a lower percentage of women attending the RIPE meeting, and yeah, that kind of fits with the general observation that the pandemic disproportionately affected working women so the burden of unpaid labour in the household fell disproportionately with women so they didn't have the opportunity to attend events or just stay employed.

What we do for women, I have listed two things even though they are not specifically for women, childcare is something that we started offering in an attempt to make it easier for new parents to come to RIPE meetings, of course it depends on the demand. For this meeting we didn't receive a lot of requests for it so we didn't organise it. But this is something that we ‑‑ we are going to keep on making available in the feature if there's demand for this.

And then I am also listing the fellowship, I would like to make that, not specifically targeting women but this is one tool where we are trying to increase all types of diversity, so more students, people from diverse geographical backgrounds and also gender diversity.

How does these numbers compare to women in the IT industry as a whole? You can see some numbers on the slide. So, among ICT specialists, about 15 to 25% are women in Western Europe and 25 to 35 are women in Eastern Europe. Some other numbers in some tech firms. So, my general message is that all of these numbers that I managed to find online are higher than the 15% we see at RIPE meetings, so I'm concerned about this number. I don't know ‑‑ I don't know ‑‑ I would like to brainstorm here maybe in the room what more can we do to increase that number. But just looking at the stats, it's not looking great.

I have another slide on women among newcomers. So, first‑tme women at RIPE meetings is approximately 26 as an absolute number and 14.91% of attendees. Several observations here:

The number 14.91 is slightly lower than the number ‑‑ let me go back ‑‑ the number here, it's very similar but slightly lower. So, the reason that I am kind of concerned about it is because if we look at newcomers as the future of the RIPE community and you know that would basically mean that in the future we cannot expect things to improve just looking at the composition of the newcomers today or in the past few meetings. So, yeah, kind of two worrying messages from me today.

And I just wanted to mention here because there was some concerns about the RIPE meeting in Belgrade as a location, but at least when it comes to diversity of women this was our best meeting so far, almost 20% of the attendees were women. So yeah, I just wanted to mention that curious fact. These are newcomers.

My last slide on women's participation is about speakers. So, a few disclaimers. How ‑‑ first of all, maybe you are wondering how I got this data. So when I go in the meeting software, I have two fields that are helping me, that's salutation, whether somebody selected Mr. Or Mrs. Or Ms. Or something else, and the question what is your gender. So based on these two, I managed to map out majority of attendees, the ones are not mapped as staff get registered automatically and those are not filled. But I am able to knowing my colleagues, make a good estimate. That leaves me with not that many actual names that I need to kind of assign into a category, and yeah, so this is how I do it for the attendees.

When it comes to speakers, I just look at the name and most of the time I know that person.

With the speakers, the difficulty there is that sometimes there is the same person who is speaking at different sessions, so then do I count them twice, sometimes the same speaker the same session, but anyway when you are looking at these data please look at the trends so not ‑‑ I am not going to guarantee the absolute number, if it's 21 or 22, but the general trend I am pretty confident that is correct.

At least correctly represented.

So, amongst speakers there's a lot more variety, I have divided them between plenary and Working Group sessions. And yeah, you can see that 20%, 20.6% for plenary and 18.4 for Working Groups. On average, that's 18 .7% of speakers are women. The Working Group sessions weigh heavily with the average because there are more speakers in Working Group sessions than in plenary, so if you are wondering why it's not in the middle between two averages.

So yeah, it's ‑‑ because there is slightly more women amongst the speakers rather than in the general attendance, perhaps that means that more senior women managed to secure funding to the RIPE meeting, a little bit more easier than junior colleagues, so that's something to think about if you are a budget‑holder, maybe something to think to try to encourage more of your junior female colleagues to attend the meeting, not just encourage them but give them the funding, of course.

And I have one not related slide, but I still wanted to show it because probably it might pop up, since RIPE 77 we also have an additional field for non‑binary in our registration so these are the absolute numbers. I didn't provide percentages because it would be very small, but these are the absolute numbers of people who selected non‑binary option in the gender question.

Some conclusions:

So, what we see from the data that I have shown is that financial discounts do help attract more students, they want to get involved and so it's just a matter of us making it easier for them to come. I mentioned the unexplained drop in academics post‑Covid. My hope is it was just a fluke and that is not an ongoing trend.

Yeah, as I mentioned, when it comes to women's participation, at RIPE meetings it's less than the industry at large, which I find concerning, and also the fact that looking at the newcomers numbers it's not set to improve in the future.

So this is what I wanted to share with you, next ‑‑ next meeting I am hoping to be able to share some slides on geographic diversity, but for now, these are my conclusions, thank you.


SHANE KERR: That's very cool work, I really enjoy it, I didn't see many trends, it looked like everything was a flat line which I guess is a trend. But I did have a question: When you have separate statistics for academics and students, are students included in there?



GERT DOERING: Thanks for that. I am curious about the age distribution, I know you don't have the numbers yet, but maybe it might be possible on the next registration to voluntarily put the age in, because I keep hearing this is dominated by old white men. We know about the men part, but the actual age distribution is ‑‑ I don't know, it certainly feels like we have lots of old people in the room but there's also young folk which is welcome.

GERGANA PETROVA: Thanks for the suggestion. Two suggestions that we have been thinking on potentially implementing in our registration form, is what you said, some sort of age brackets so there's going to be ‑‑ that is going to be a voluntary field and another one is for brackets on how many RIPE meetings you have attended so we can see if newcomers come back again, so these are the two things that we are hoping to be able to implement by next meeting.

SANDER STEFFANN: Maybe another one you could consider is how experienced somebody feels like are we getting a lot of older people new to the field or something like that, like are you a beginner or an expert or in between? Because I am also curious about how that affects the participation. Some people might be old but still new.

GERGANA PETROVA: Absolutely. Any more suggestions? I don't see anybody heading to the mic. So I am happy ‑‑ Peter?

PETER HESSLER: There we go. I have ‑‑ you just answered my question about the newcomers on how many are coming back so I am grateful to hear about that, that was one thing I was very interested in. But you also wanted to know how do you attract more newcomers to meetings and I think we need to consider that people who have not been to RIPE meetings are more likely to be juniors than seniors and juniors are much more likely to be working for smaller companies than large companies that are our usual participants like do we need more employees from Google or Facebook at these meetings, for example? But for smaller companies, they may have budgery issues in sending anyone to any meeting, I have run into that many times in my career or also they may not know or realise why this is interesting or important for them to attend. I am grateful for the online availability, so people can at least not have to get funding from their company to attend. And still participate in somewhat reasonable fashion. Thanks.

GERGANA PETROVA: Thanks,Peter, this is really nice comment. And something that we have been thinking about as well, the financial burden of having ‑‑ of attracting new junior people to the meeting and also people from under‑represented geographical regions. The only thing I would like to I guess invite you to do is, from the community I mean, is to post about this, to give us your opinions maybe on the RIPE mailing list, for example, it's a bit difficult for us to act based on like one person's opinion. Thank you,Peter, for saying this, I just would like to invite everybody to post a little bit more to say, do you agree, do you disagree, you know, give us your feedback so that we can act, we are just the secretariat so we need your input to go in one direction or another.

SPEAKER: So, new comer junior engineer, I come from academics and a junior in a company so I can talk about two sides of it. As a student I will put it that way, the only way for me to start coming to RIPE meetings was, I think, the one in Belgrade, where everything altogether cost me €300 where I paid also for the student ticket and dinner ticket and all the travel expenses and this was something that was accessible to me. Berlin would probably be also possible as a first entry while Rotterdam was €800 and this I think 600. Somebody with no regular income, that is hard, it means that I am here because as who I am, I am privileged. From my family, from my parents. This is not accessible and I'm very happy like from your guys' side you have enabled me with a fellowship to SE, so that's one of the things that has pulled me in. I have requested for Rotterdam and here for free student ticket it's €50, it's a small part, I have a feeling it's easy for your team to just approve. I don't know if you even budget that but this is great, this is for the accessibility, it's helpful and so on. So you want to stay in and you do make a reasoning to put three‑quarters of your monthly salary to be here. Well now, here as a junior engineer, like, I have an amazing boss, I said ‑‑ before before I signed the contract I said I want to go to the RIPE NCC conference and he said, okay, I can do only because I am here in my free time because I work part‑time. So I don't see a company sending junior engineers by themselves and I think that's a problem, I don't necessarily have an answer for this. But I hope the company will see value in me coming here, that's why I didn't mention my employer, but ‑‑ but yeah, I hope in the future that will change but it's a very high barrier of entry.


SPEAKER: I can tell you a bit about academics, there are three main reasons, it happens in their city, therefore, it's for free kind of to be there, you get ‑‑ or you have research funding, my experience is research funding is going away from networks because not any more from tier on the edge, money is moving to AI and other things, if you don't have research projects people won't have the funding to attend.

GERGANA PETROVA: Thanks. This is my cue. Thank you all for listening and for your feedback. I will hand over to the next speaker.

VALERIE AURORA: I am here to convince you that getting credit accurately is important and helpful to diversity. Here is what we will talk about today, I will give you some examples of community contributions and false credit, I will go into some detail about why credit matters, people argue it doesn't, who is more likely to get credit and I will make the explicit between giving credit accurately and improving diversity, I want to call out how unfairly taking credit harms diversity. We will talk about some specific actions communities can take to give credit accurately, and I will talk about an example written in credit policy that many folks are working on.

So I want to motivate this a bit. Why care about who gets credit for contributions?

I found this on hacker news, there's a link so you can see whose handle wrote it, I thought summarised really well: "The case for stealing credit."

"Some people have their whole GitHub resumes built off copy pasted contributions, open a pool request"

This is the get comments, asking for changes, you only have time to fix it a few days later, the PR gets close as fixed by another PR submitted by a frequent contributor, find said PR is your exact code with a variable name change ‑‑ basically they have a fast‑track to getting their code accepted. You look at that user's profile and you see almost all of their contributions were copy pasted from other people.

Here is a connection between stealing credit and your GitHub resume. I want to point out, of course, that contributions come in many forms and that stealing credit happens in all of those forms. So things like Def apps reports, who did figure out with this system was design documentation, event organisation, mentoring standards definitions which I would like to talk about here. Here is a quote from the IETF experience of women participating in the IETF report:

"A few individuals brought up situations where their work was sidelined or sidestepped when creating new testify initiatives or Working Group drafts. For some scenarios mentioned significant contributions were not acknowledged. The in these cases the women had written drafts which were later usurped by other drafts without referencing the previous work or even acknowledging that the initial work existed."

This obviously happens to people of all genders, including men and non‑binary people, I am going to argue that it happens to marginalise people more often.

Now I have got a little context, a little about me. I have around 15 years of professional software experience, another 12 years in professional diversity, equity and inclusion. My work has been plagiarised multiple times, in the way described in that first slide. And I have had to correct for giving me credit that I didn't deserve and surely I have accidentally taken credit when I did not mean to.

Just to be super clear, when someone gets credit, they get things like money and jobs, raises, promotions, bonuses, influence, they get to make decisions, are speaking at events, travel, professional networking, they form contacts who help them and finally, satisfaction, a sense of justice and fairness and feeling appreciated.

As somebody who works in Open Source this is pretty high on the list.

I will point out people also get most of these things even if they didn't actually do the work they got credit for. I think they replaced the sense of justice and fairness with the sense of I got away with it again. Mine, my thing.

So, this almost always come up in every single one of these discussion which is you should not ask for credit. Asking for credit is not allowed. And I agree that there are a lot of social norms against asking for credit, and I will talk about ways to get around that later but I just want to say when people say good people don't ask for credit the translation is we punish people with less power for asking for credit so more powerful people can take it unfairly, that's that's the effect because people with less power can't steal credit as much, if you are not allowed to talk about it, this is what's going to happen. I would like to call up the related Al Capone theory which my friend Lee Honeywell and I cannot remember who invented, you did it, you came up with it, we say both of of us. This is the connection again between these two things, people who engage in sexual harassment or assault are also likely to steal, plagiarise and embezzle, engaged in overt racism or otherwise harm their business. We were coming from a particular direction but all of these things are connected together and likely to be occurring in the same person.

All right. So, I will just try to be ‑‑ one more clear, make this argument very clearly. Who is most likely and least likely to just have credit awarded to them or be able to retain it?

So people who match the stereotype in people's heads of who should be doing the thing, the number of times I have to explain I am a Linux kernel develop is related to my appearance, people who are already known and have power and control who gets credit, the people who stand on the stage or checks in the code or publishes the draft, and people who can in general get away with harming other people. Least likely of course all the other things, people who don't match the stereotype, who are less known and have less power, are newcomers and people with little control over who gets credit. This is the thing I noticed the most is the person who says yes, we are putting this into the project, can't say that they were the author.

So, benefits to community for giving credit accurately, it improves retention, encourages future contributions, attracts kind, creative, fun people who care about fairness, improves the public reputation of your project. This is not how you want to people to hear, people having a fight over who got credit, more people to use and rely on the product when they see it's behaving in an ethical matter gives credit to people who don't match the stereotype of a contributor.

Improves diversity and inclusion. People don't want to talk about this, the benefits, the correct benefits to individuals for falsely taking credit are especially strong in a duocracy, which is a lot of these group community projects where contributions are the main source of power, taking credit for their contributions directly increasing their power. I notice particular leaders of projects want to maintain complete control, so taking as much as credit as they can does that. They keep the monetary benefits, the career benefits, they are always the person speaking about their project at the conference or whatever, it's reducing competition by screening out anyone who cares about fairness and it's also screening out people who don't match the stereotype. So, it's sort of a group solidarity thing. It reduces diversity, equity and inclusion through corrupt behaviour, that's why people do it.

This is what I find people tend to think about credit‑giving. It's obvious who should get credit and theft of credit is not a problem, why are we talking about this, because everyone agrees with me, the next one, everyone needs to be vigilant and intentional, next one, it goes to the person strong enough and fast enough to take it, that's just fair.

So, some ways to give credit better. Senior people deliberately put effort into praying and recognising junior people. This, we know this room is full of senior people, this is your job, do it on purpose. Frequently proactively. When you are ‑‑ multiple people are contributing to a thing together, see if you can record their contributions separately and make the edits clear. Create public listed contributors and make them easy to update, awards or lists or contributor of the month, all that kind of stuff. Correct inaccurate or false credit quickly, this is so important. It's happened to me just by accident, people made a mistake, I am not that person. General principle, people with more power intentionally look for ways to give credit to people with less power.

So one of the specific suggestions, adopt a written policy for giving credit. This is great. You don't have to think you look at your policy and everyone knows how you do it. I love this example here, somebody wrote about changing their mind: "I used to think it was fine to take someone else's contribution and then create a total rewrite of it in my own branch and merge that, or go into someone's PR and push a rewrite, but someone had to do the same with me to realise it kind of sucked and really soured the experience of being a contributer, people can change their minds."

The Open Source Working Group is working on an example of written credit policy and I think I have got my e‑mail address at the bot here.

Love to hear any thoughts of yours. Thanks.


MIRJAM KUEHNE: I want to say, I wonder if it's easier to have questions at the end and have the talks first because all of them are fairly short and maybe if there's time, I hope we will have some bit of discussion afterwards if it's okay with all the speakers, I don't want to be unfair to the last speaker and it falls off at the end because we don't have time. Thank you.

MANNAT KAUR: Hello, everyone. I am Mannat Kaur, I am a post‑doc researcher at the Max Black Institute for Mathematics my talk today is going to be care, care in system administration work and care for system administration work.

So, quick background. This talk is mainly based on my PhD research and mostly on most recent work we did which is about the gendered experiences of system administrators. In the study we did focus 16 admins who are not sys men and we focused on gender, both the gender identity and the gender view of tasks.

One of the main insights we got from this study was that people who belong to marginalised or excluded genders in the workplace often have to do extra work and extra tasks to to be seen or accepted as equal in the workplace, they have to go above and beyond in their tasks to be accepted.

One way the extra work shows up in their work is in the form of care work. The work of care is always ongoing. It demands commitment and dedication. And it is often feminised and because of that it is also invisiblised. In system administration, care shows up in the form of dedication and commitment towards ensuring continuous system operations, day after day.

It takes the form of maintenance and support tasks, helping and supporting others, colleagues and system users requires carefulness. It requires empathy and communication skills.

In our study, we saw that sys admin attributed their ability to empathise and their communication skills to their own past gendered experiences, for example, because they had been discriminated against or treated differently because of their gender and they also attributed it to other people's gendered perception of them, for example because they were perceived as more caring because they are a woman.

Community support in the workplace is another way in which care shows up. This takes the form of good workplace atmosphere where there's mutual trust among co‑workers and people feel free to be themselves. We also see sadly in our study that such caring workplaces are not at all the norm. And this brings me to the lack of care and how it contributes to an uncaring workplace culture.

So because sys admin work and care work both tend to be invisiblised, it creates an environment where care work is not seen or recognised at an organisal level, and this makes it difficult to perform care‑related tasks which then leads to high workloads, reduced motivation and exhaustion for sys admins, this contributes to an uncare workplace culture.

The series "The Bastard Operator From Hell' by Simone Travaglia, is an example of this. The series is about a rogue system administrator who takes out his anger and frustrations on system end users who constantly pester him for help. And while this can be seen as a way of venting in a clearly highly demanding profession, these attitudes cause really harm to the sys admins and to the people they interact with.

One way to distribute this cycle of uncaring is to care more for the care work that is being done by sys admins, to care for sys admin work is to visiblise this working, it is to appreciate the scope and the critical nature of the work that is being done by sys admins and when it comes to workplaces and organisations, it is also about acknowledging the exclusion that is already taking place and the ways in which it is taking place and then find ways to counter that.

Creating a culture of care is a step towards creating equitable workplaces. Places where sys admins feel free to be themselves, caring workplaces are one that put people first and foster supportive communities. And this is ultimately important for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

So, in the end, I just want to emphasise the important role of care, both in and for system administration work. This carefulness is an important step towards creating equitable workplaces and inclusive workplaces and also equitable systems and equitable places for those who manage these systems.

That's all from my side, thank you for listening and I would love to hear the ways in which you have noticed care or the lack thereof in your workplaces, thank you.


SASHA ROMIJN: Hi, Sasha, I think many people here know me already and I am going to talk about accessibility and RIPE and so first of all I am going to give a bit of basic introduction and talk about some specifics of RIPE meetings. For one, there's a lot more than wheelchairs because usually when people think about accessibility they think normal people and paralysed people ‑‑ there's a huge range of different abilities, mobility aids and needs that people have, self‑sufficient see or not, it might be temporary or long term, might be a broken ankle, it might be permanent injury. Some are visible, some are not at all and there's also a lot of dynamics so you can do certain things but not too much and not always and you don't always know.

A few disclaimers in advance. I am more aware than most people about different mobility needs, but I can actually still do a lot compared to many other people so that influences my experiences and I am only talking about mobility here and I I want to stress everyone has different relations to their limitations and so I have one view but there is different cultural ideas around that, I wrote these slides yesterday, I was having the ten conversation ten times I will write slides for it, this is not an excellently rehearsed talk or planned.

So it might be a little rough.

Also if you do‑‑ few and dos and don'ts, some people care strongly about disabled person versus person with disabilities, usually when it's more long term it, I don't care about that one myself but never terms like wheelchair bound, differently abled, people of determination, that's the worst, handy capable, confined, nobility aid is something you use, it exists to serve me, it enables things to be able to do things that you could otherwise do, not a thing that confines you, for most people mobility aids are an extension of ourselves, it helps me do things I cannot, don't move them, lean on them, hang your coat on them, sitting on my Walker is like sitting on my lap, you have to ask and we have to be friends.

Also, one of the most common, people start making assumptions when they see you are having difficulty with certain things, a lot of people, especially if something is long term, are incredibly well aware of their own abilities and limits so don't make assumptions but rather inform what the situation is, for example this little ledge at the main room entrance, for me this is no problem at all, as long as I can see it, it's even lighting dependent as well. For other people, I think this is low enough it's almost not an issue for anyone, but I don't know for sure myself. And I often see this kind of assumptions rather than being told what the situation is. So, one of the key things is to make things accurate and detailed so these will mislead you, they will say it's accessible and it won't be. Having accessible toilets, is it actually accessible and did they stuff it with storage and the key is in some other person and now I have to call ‑‑ or like oh, no it's only one lift, we will just lift you, things like that. Needing to justify use is very unpleasant. I once had a venue for a different event where I wanted to use the elevator and the manager, it was apparently very difficult and a manager got a little annoyed and popped over the bar to see what my legs looked like to see if I was going to be able to use the elevator.

Also for work‑arounds sometimes people think you can lift a person, absolute no‑go, unless you are very specifically trained for them, you will drop them and they will be stuck with the consequences. Some people can walk without help for a while and some cannot. You can lift a walker, wheelchair, electric, you won't get it off the ground. For work arounds we prefer not to have them at all, don't assume, but ask. And don't think you will just do something or they will just do something and also it hurts independence and dignity when you need help for something.

Also, saying I am sorry is not a work‑around, if I got an IPv4 address every time someone said I am sorry to me this week, I am so sorry, I would ‑‑ yeah.

It's nice to know that people do care and they are trying to learn, but I think ‑‑ I wish I had a clicker because I think I got apologised to about 30 times for the stairs at the social event. I feel I am comforting the other person.

Event travelling in general is hard, this is not my device fortunately, it is a huge amount of extra effort, research, planning because you don't know what barriers you are going to encounter, how do you get from the airport to the hotel, is the hotel sufficiently accessible, how do you carry luggage, some people have medication, any mobility aids, which ones do you bring, will they suffice and someone is going to screw up, if you bring a mobility aid on a plane, they might just shred it completely, they will give you a loner, it won't be as good. That is on top of getting ‑‑

Since I have been here meeting team, the staff has have made an effort to adjust things, people make space for me when I need to get through something, I have not had to run anyone over yet, my one at home has a bell, but this is a rental and it doesn't. I do manage pretty well because I can still do a lot, I just can't do it as often and it's harder so I am still pretty agile but the accessibility is actually really awful. I was told my foldable Walker wouldn't fit and maybe you can take a taxi which would bring up €200 in extra costs, no, this is really weird, I am going to ignore this and show up and it's fine. There was no info in advance at all, nothing on the website, the word accessibility isn't even mentioned there I think. So some barriers, there's no information upfront, so I have no idea what I am getting into, what I can get to or not, the two hotel buildings and shuttle isn't accessible, I didn't know in advance. Having this session in a room that is completely not accessible, the stairs to get to the social events were intense and unpleasant, social event did have an accessible toilet, I can manage, a lot of people could not. They do put up a ramp and it got moved down here, this was a chance for the hotel, worked for me, however the ramp is ‑‑ the space is too narrow so if you can't hop your aid on to the ramp you can't get through. I think it was a fire hazard, it was blocking one of the exhibits. Things like this, when I made this photo I could still fit through, this afternoon because as people move, sit, they move the chairs back. My handles are high and I can navigate, if you have a wheelchair you could not get through here. Of course you can ask, but every time you have to ask like, oh can someone change this and move this, it's unpleasant, you don't get to be independent.

Like accessible toilet but it has a door closer, so you have to hold the door open, the door opens inside, you don't get to see what you look like because there's no mirror. Also, again, I manage but it's ‑‑ we really need to do better, especially if we look beyond my limitations, because I manage. It's not as pleasant as it could be, but if you had any more limitations like if you can't or barely stand at all, this would be an absolutely miserable experience. It would be incredibly expensive and still suck. People have still made their best effort to make on‑the‑fly accommodations but I did not get the impression anyone had thought about this before. And like I think one of the big things is also having this kind of info in advance because you don't want to guess when you get here and you can't wait for someone to show up and run into problems especially if they can't adapt as well as I can, they will self select not to come because you don't want to take the gamble.

So, yeah, I think there's lots to learn and lots to improve here and me being here has already taught many people things about limitations and I am hoping we can do better in the future.


ANNIKA HANNIG: Hi, I write software. She is Maria.

MARIA MATEJKA: I typed this presentation.

ANNIKA HANNIG: I get called a total nerd often enough.


ANNIKA HANNIG: Maybe more speak here. Over the last couple of RIPEs we kind of noticed a pattern, especially on ‑‑ when it comes to socials, it's more ‑‑ it's conversations like are you going to the RIPE social? And the answers is often no, it's too loud for me or on other things then, for example, let's meet on Wednesday, maybe in the morning or so. No, I am still kind of drained and still recovering from the social.

MARIA MATEJKA: I think you have seen that these are two different people because that one person who did not go there, cannot be recovering or they may be recovering from the social because they prepared to go there and they found out that it isn't for them and they are still recovering.

ANNIKA HANNIG: We then, so we made these slides and handed in this presentation pretty much on short term, pretty much right after we attended this Tuesday social and one thing we found was yeah, okay, there is like loud music everywhere, it's not only that there is this band at the front but the music is rebroadcast to the other side of the venue, which made like this loudness and the music present everywhere. Also, entrances or spaces were very crowded, it was really hard to get through even if you wanted to, for example, get fast out of some very narrow situation and want to get some space.

MARIA MATEJKA: Especially when we were coming into that person who was navigating everybody to the top floor with that very loud DJ was very annoying.

ANNIKA HANNIG: Then we were thinking okay this place actually sounds not so loud, it's actually a bit more spacious, and then we found out it was the smokers' lounge which was just going great ‑‑

MARIA MATEJKA: There was actually in the corner one person smoking a really big cigar and nobody else but it was still smelling.

ANNIKA HANNIG: It was fantastic stuff. Also okay, here, have something to drink, I guess.

MARIA MATEJKA: Basically you have wine and here you have another wine, do you want something which is not alcoholic? Please ask.

ANNIKA HANNIG: Or there is water but, I mean water is kind of boring, I mean.

MARIA MATEJKA: To add context I am coming from Czech like 70% has some problems with not alcoholism in full scale but there is still something around this and we are the country with the highest consumption of beer, ever, for like last 50 years, excluding one year when Belgium was above us and the Czechs reacted like hey, we have to drink more and ‑‑

ANNIKA HANNIG: This was surprising for me and coming from Germany as well, so I mean ‑‑ so, we were thinking, so, what are things that we would actually need. So we kind of like to socialise, we need ‑‑ we kind of like to hang around with people, but what are the needs to deal with some more trustful situations or more crowded situations, so it comes down usually to reducing sensory load or ‑‑ this can for example be achieved by a room with a bit less ‑‑ yeah, this is done by space with a bit less noise and like there is no football or someone screaming or people really being loud and shouting and yeah, no music, which does not mean it be a silent room, just be a bit ‑‑

MARIA MATEJKA: It should not have another source of sound other than the people themselves and it should not encourage people to make loud sounds in itself, like for example playing table football and no toilet is not the right place and I know some people are doing this, sitting ten minutes on toilet just to get some ‑‑ some quiet place.

ANNIKA HANNIG: Another thing is this entirely boils down to, I mean, we know we are maybe a bit weird, maybe we are ‑‑ yeah, I mean, we've been around parties and spaces for a while and we develop coping mechanisms. I mean, having coping mechanisms is good but it would be really nice if there would be other coping mechanisms available than basically numbing yourself with alcohol first. So how can we enable this? For example, to reduce sensory load and yeah, is basically giving us space to disconnect for a bit. This can be either done alone or even in situations where we disconnect together, so like getting into like a head space for thinking about interesting problems ‑‑

MARIA MATEJKA: There were two people playing chess there.

ANNIKA HANNIG: Yeah. And I think this is actually a really good way because we were basically at one point just sitting there inventing very fantasy routing protocols just for fun.

MARIA MATEJKA: It was very ‑ indeed.

ANNIKA HANNIG: We kind of do this because ‑‑ we socialise by exchanging ideas and like to disconnect from all this around us and we maybe not want to dance all the time but yeah, kind of have the ability to then engage with the dancing on our terms, like when we can ‑‑

MARIA MATEJKA: Sometimes want to just end up here, for a while.

ANNIKA HANNIG: It's a bit of a cliche but, I mean, maybe sometimes it's true. So ‑‑

MARIA MATEJKA: Be honest, how many of us actually found yourself in such a situation enjoying it? There are some hands, thank you.

ANNIKA HANNIG: This can be nice. So, what can be done to ‑‑ we are now a bit whining around about all this, so what can we do to make an event like last Tuesday a bit more accessible and more fun for us?

It would be a good step not to broadcast music everywhere and have this one room not ‑‑ yeah. Also give us ways to engage with ideas, with zoning out, disconnecting, playing a game, like, adding a whiteboard, for example, so we can just scribble around things or have some papers somewhere.

MARIA MATEJKA: There is a joke about inventing a protocol or ‑‑ new technology on a napkin, why should we stay with napkins, we can have these things like professionally prepared, /WEFR like a group of nerds here aren't we?

ANNIKA HANNIG: Maybe provide games like having a chessboard ready, which was there, but it was a completely wrong location; it was upstairs with the DJ which was then kind of, yeah, but it's kind of illustrating the point of this providing a way to zone out, to disconnect a bit and even get into the space where you can focus and tune out the loud music a bit. So ‑‑

MARIA MATEJKA: It brings us back to the point of Sasha who said please let us know in advance, yeah if we knew in advance we could bring our Board games I would bag three of them and we would enjoy the evening much more.

ANNIKA HANNIG: Yeah. But then this brings us to this venue itself.

MARIA MATEJKA: Imagine that you are ‑‑ you feel really bad and you need just to run out, you cannot run either on the road or into the golf club, well thank you, no.

Also coming here means to sit into a taxi because otherwise you have to walk for quite a long time around a road. It means you have to sit in a car with a stranger. Let it sink, what it means for somebody who had been assaulted before. It's still a stranger and you don't know who is the taxi person, who is the taxi driver who comes for you. This is kind of very annoying. I get very often here yes, sired from the person ‑‑ from the people of the hotel, and even though I am used to automatically reply "lady" they are still keeping this and it's very annoying. And if you want to just go away and have a meeting, hey, just go downstairs into this long limbinal space and then somewhere there is a completely empty and haunted meeting room, if you don't get eaten as a group.

ANNIKA HANNIG: You might as well go to your room and you need a taxi to go to your room. So, how to fix this?

MARIA MATEJKA: We don't know but please if you ‑‑ if there is somebody who is selecting the next venue, please think about it at least a bit. Also we'd like to say that there are people, already people from Poland who approached notably us two and they were asking very diligently and what deliberately what the needs are, so at least I think all those things are moving and we like to say please continue and please add more to it, it's the good way.



MARIA MATEJKA: Remember, upgrade from BIRD 1.

MIRJAM KUEHNE: I want to thank all the speakers, this was wonderful and thanks for all the construction suggestions and I think Karla made lots of notes and there's so many things we can improve, I really enjoyed that session and it was very useful.


SANDER STEFFANN: Couple of notes. Years ago, about eight years ago, I had a massive burnout and I can sympathise, at that time I would just not go to the socials because I knew I would be completely overloaded sensory, so I definitely know how it feels. But yeah, I also like the dancing, so it would be nice if you can dance a bit and then go to a place where you can let your emotions sync a bit. The other one is that I have been involved with organising an event for 800 people and we got a really good reputation for accessibility, but you need to build that over the years. And one of the things we have is actually we have people on the team who are in a wheelchair and people who are, have other mobility problems and they actually joined the scouting team, go out, see how the accessible toilets are and there's just so much experience that living that life brings with it that outside ‑‑ I think it's very hard for somebody who never experienced that to judge it.

So we actually ‑‑ I would encourage the NCC to actually work with people who have mobility problems to scout venues and see what can be done because otherwise you are bound to miss a lot of things. It's very hard to do right, but when you build reputation, when you do it right, it is very rewarding and you see people who feel isolated suddenly flock to your meetings because you are one of the few who does it right.

SPEAKER: So, for the socials, yeah, I thank you very much for pointing out out all of those things. I do like the socials but I think everybody gets at some point in the situation where has sensory overload. I remember I was having a conversation with someone and we were going through the whole socials venue to find a place to talk inside, and also you know it's an opportunity here, we are also when we talk to each other we do make friends and sometimes you have a conversation that you want to actually understand what the other person is saying. So I think those points are very good for this, yeah, if you wanted to have a conversation with somebody and actually care what they are saying you had to go outside and that worked for me. But what if it would be raining or snowing and that would make, I would say even for me, I am putting ‑‑ like I really like the socials the way they are but I would feel very uncomfortable if I would have no escape to the outside and maybe you should solve that so everybody finds their place to either ‑‑ out, have a conversation and play a Board game and do what the social is meant for.

SPEAKER: Nat Morris: I enjoyed your presentation I thought it was awesome ‑‑ one of my observations, I miss the terminal room, like 12 rooms, there was a room laid out ‑‑ one thing I miss from 12 years ago is the terminal room, it used to be quiet and people could go in there and you could sit and concentrate without having to listen to people on conference calls. If I went back into a room at lunchtime there would be dance music playing constantly and it often wasn't as quiet as it possibly could when you needed a break.

SPEAKER: Harry Cross here. I am thinking we are sat here late into the evening on a Thursday talking about this, and it kind of feels we are a little bit buried at the bottom and forgotten. Let's not add to the fact that we appear to be sitting here in a basement with an inaccessible flight of stairs and no lift and I think that just, it kind of feels quite odd to me. And coming from somebody with sight issues who can't see very well, getting those flight of stairs is a wonderful experience, you know. There's a couple of steps that are marked and the rest of them aren't and there's no handrail either. And I have noticed that this was a thing on the boat as well, you know, you are sat there trying to get down, to be honest, quite sharp flights of stairs with not much of a handrail and not much marked out. And I am pleased to see there is work being done but I think there's also more to do. And I apologise if that sounded quite harsh.

Hisham: RIPE NCC. I wanted to say we ‑‑ we have taken ‑‑ I appreciate all the feedback and we have taken notes of them and we will try to do better. But I promise you all the shortcomings that you have pointed out are things that we have been trying for a long time to fix here, since this ‑‑ selection of this hotel, the first thing we were aware of is the accessibility. I remember the first time I heard about it I was like, aren't we in an EU country? These things should have been resolved a long time ago. So I want to apologise because you told me not to apologise but we have been working on that and yes, I think we should be doing better.

Maria, and Annika, I am happy that the person that you did not name went and talked to you, it was important for us, for Poland that we know what the needs are, we will put more information on the website and accessibility will be there and we take note of everything you said. Thank you.


KARLA LIDDLE‑WHITE: Thank you, everyone, for coming, and I think that was really constructive and I think this is a really important session and thank you for coming. See you later.