Sexual Harassment at Technical Conferences: A Big No-No

We’ve been contacted recently about issues of sexual harassment at technical conferences, including at Oscon, which starts tomorrow in Portland. At O’Reilly we take those issues very seriously. While we’re still trying to understand exactly what might have happened at Oscon or other O’Reilly conferences in the past, it’s become clear that this is a real, long-standing issue in the technical community. And we do know this: we don’t condone harassment or offensive behavior, at our conferences or anywhere. It’s counter to our company values. More importantly, it’s counter to our values as human beings.

We’re voicing our strong, unequivocal support of appropriate behavior by all participants at technical events, including Oscon and other O’Reilly conferences. We invite you to help us make Oscon a place that is welcoming and respectful to all participants, so everyone can focus on the conference itself, and the great networking and community richness that can happen when we get together in person.

One issue that has come up at some technical conferences is sexual or racist comments or images in slides. This is not appropriate. Speakers and exhibitors should use good judgment; if we hear complaints and we think they are warranted, you may not be invited back.

Even more alarmingly, we’ve heard accounts of female attendees having to put up with stalking, offensive comments, and unwanted sexual advances. I’d like to borrow a line from the Flickr Community Guidelines, which use the term Creepiness as follows: “You know that guy. Don’t be that guy.” If we hear that you are that guy, we will investigate, and you may be asked to leave.

Please bring any concerns to the immediate attention of the event staff, or contact our VP of Conferences, Gina Blaber at We thank our attendees for their help in keeping the event welcoming, respectful, and friendly to all participants.

P.S. We are going to adapt this blog post into a “Code of Conduct” that will become part of the web site registration materials for all of our conferences.