Women in Open Technology & Culture

IFLA Joint Preconference between IFLA ITSC and IFLA Women, Information, and Libraries SIG

Preliminary Report

The Women in Open Technology & Culture Satellite Meeting was held on August 11th, 2016 in Evanston, IL at the Northwestern University Main Library.

A reception for attendees was held on the evening of August 10th from 6 – 8pm in the Deering Library at Northwestern University.  There was no cost for the reception. 

All costs for the conference, including space, the reception the night before, and coffee service were donated by Northwestern University Libraries.  Participants were expected to pay for their own lunch during the lunch break at the student union on campus. 

The group received 25 presentations for the conference.  We accepted 23 presentations.  Of those 23, 6 speakers were unable to attend for various reasons.  

As of August 5th, there were 48 registered attendees, most of whom, other than some of the speakers, are coming from the United States.  Only 6 of the registered participants were from institutions outside of the U.S.  

Amy Buckland, Repository Manager at the University of Chicago provided the keynote and was responsible for hosting the Open Sessions, which were opportunities for less formal discussion amongst attendees.  Amy led a great opening discussion on what is “open” and how we can define those things.  Open Educational Resources, Open Access, and Open Source.  This was a great exercise as it really gave everyone an opportunity to see that this was a collaborative learning opportunity, rather than a lecture based meeting, and to make sure we were all on the same page in terms of language and understanding.  One of the biggest discussion points that came from this was around language within Open Source communities and how some of the words we use or phrases we employ imply a certain type of relationship that can turn women off from participation and ownership.  

We ended the day with a conversation on what went well, what was learned, and what could be improved.  All of the participants talked about how this was the first opportunity they had to talk about challenges faced as women in technology or who work with technology in frank and open way.  They expressed their excitement about having a chance to talk about a wide variety of topics.  The non-native English speakers appreciated that the Americans made an effort to speak slowly and with language that was easier to understand, but they tended to observe, rather than participate and then speak one-on-one with speakers who resonated with them or audience members who shared stories that resonated. 

We asked participants to be cautious when they tweeted as many of the attendees would be sharing personal information.  We asked that nobody was referenced specifically in a tweet or a Facebook post.  This may have made it less obvious as to what we were hoping to accomplish from the outside, but it was very well received and we were asked if we could please run this or something like it again next year. 


A copy of the schedule can be found here.

Tweets under the UnConference’s hashtag, #IFLAWomenTech can be found here.