Diversity in tech
25 May 2023
Diversity in tech.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Good evening everybody here in Rotterdam, and good day, or good morning to Randy and to everybody else who is watching online.
This is the diversity in tech session. My name is Vesna, I am from the RIPE NCC, I will be a moderator, and the main topic in general of these sessions is how to increase diversity and inclusion and equity and justice in the RIPE community, and this time we are going to focus on how to bring more value to the next generation from the RIPE community itself to new network operators or any other people who would like to take part in the RIPE community and on the other hand how to attract the next generation because we are all greying, the old people in the RIPE community. So, to that goal, we have invited four panelists to give us either their experiences, personal experiences, or to talk about their communities.
I will let themselves introduce themselves, but I will just point to them and their names
We have Claudia, Z, Mirja and Edward. And they are do five minute talk and after that we will have what I hope a lively discussion. You could ask questions to them, you can express your own experiences, and I would also even invite you to come to the stage.
So, you could be like actually taking the stage if you feel like it or we will bring the microphone to you or you can stand up and speak at the mic. I am going to repeat all this after they are done as speakers. So please give them a warm applause first.
CLAUDIA LEOPARDI: Hi everyone, since I fall under this category of youngsters, I would love to talk to you about my personal experience at RIPE NCC, and in this sector and more in general. My name is Claudia Leopardi and I am an Italian 22, almost 23 years old. I am currently interning in the public policy and Internet governance department at the RIPE NCC. But I'm technically still a student in university.
I am much less of a techie and much more of a policy, so my experience may be a bit different from from the one of the young people in the audience for now, but I hope to bring a different perspective perhaps since it's the diversity in tech.
Even before starting, now four months ago, I had extremely high expectations as a young person at our first real job experience. I was convinced that my almost obtained bachelor's degree was going to make me change the world at the RIPE NCC, and spoiler alert, it hasn't happened yet. So there is still time.
In my experience of the organisation, I realised how the expectations of my colleagues, they had towards me, were much more realistic than the ones that I had for myself. I realise that it is okay just to arrive to a new environment and just take your time to learn because as we say in a very incorrect Italian and I'm sorry if this citation is going to be understood by a few, we're not born learned, we're not born already with everything, every skill, every knowledge.
Luckily, I found myself surrounded by a team that has allowed me to develop my knowledge and skills, and that was very respectful of my capabilities and aspirations.
But I do still remember that fear of entering that first meeting and not understanding those acronyms that were thrown at me or even just the world culture in itself. The RIPE NCC has a few young fellas that are in the audience right now, but when I first physically arrived at the office I remember just being quite intimidated by the amount of adults because I just came from university where everyone was my age or younger, so it was a bit at this moment dating I guess.
So, I was quite afraid that, of saying my age at first and I remember that. I was afraid that people hearing that I was 22, I am 22, would make them change their ideas on my own ideas and my perspectives and maybe they would have been valued less.
But ‑‑ and yeah, and in the end, it ended up being a kind of a self fulfilling prophecy because I decided to use my best skill, which is humour, and I just started like joking about I was the child, I was the younger, oh look, don't listen to me, I am just a young intern, and I feel like that has kind of damaged my own image of myself and of the others had of me, and I decided that I need to cut off those obnoxious jokes. Because it basically decreases the value and the great experience that being young means.
Higher intergenerational inclusivity does not only benefit the organisation but the sector on a wider scale. Having younger minds does not only help train in the future workforce but is a powerful way to be joined by new ideas and ways of thinking.
And important ways in which this inclusivity can be fostered especially in my case in the Internet governance, policies and governance, internationals relations forums is through forums like the youth IETF or youth take of which I am part. These are great opportunities to hear young voices and interests and learn how to participate in the community.
Other ways, and I am sure that my fellow panelists will be able to expand much more on that, are through internships, I might be biased, fellowships, coordination with Professors and academia and also simply being active on platforms that younger people often use as a window to the world. And I'm not saying that that's a good thing, but it is how it is.
For these reasons, keep welcoming younger people in your offices, keep sponsoring them to participate in conferences like this when possible, but most importantly, keep finding ways to make younger participants more at least by actively listening to their purpose and including them in the conversation. This way we can feel comfortable enough to release our potential, share our ideas and show you why including younger colleagues in the work space is so great.
CHAIR: Thank you very much, I have enabled the timer over there so you can see when the five minutes is over. And what I forgot to say is we also have remote participants, so for the remote participants you can also ask questions, we have a chat monitor, who is going to read your questions allowed. So take that too consideration.
The next ‑‑
EDWARD McNAIR: I am Edward again. I got passed the baton.
So, I want to take a few minutes and talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, and kind of the sphere in the world around us.
I am from North America and I am sure there is no secret that the United States has always had a changing when it came to race and people who are different. For our society to grow and expand it needs to include people, people need to feel welcome, need to be part of something. The organisation such as RIPE, NANOG, ARIN, we're all fairly new organisations. The people who started these organisations, a lot of them are still involved and engaged, we're just now getting to the point where some of our leaders are starting to pass away and move on. The question remains why is it important? On one level it's important because if we love these organisations, we love these communities, we want them to continue, we want them to thrive. Using nature as an example, nature's focus is always on diversity. Right now they are serving bananas in that room and what we are eating is a hybrid, a hybrid that is at risk because of a lack of diversity. And that banana that you enjoyed in there in another ten years may not exist, because of a focus on having things in a narrowly defined space that works for a particular palate.
Coming into a NANOG meeting, one of the things for me as executive director and the Board, we want to make the organisation much more welcoming. We understand that diversity is critical to the long term objectives of keeping our organisations healthy.
These organisations are based upon affinity. They are groups of people that you know, that you like, you share a common interest but does that create space for people who are different to come in, diversity just won't fall on your lap. Diversity happens because of a focussed effort to make sure that you are including and you're aware of what you need to do and flex as an organisation to make a space much more accommodating.
As an African American, growing up in the United States, I was born in 1959, so I was born into a segregated America. The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1966 where, you know, technically I became an equal level citizen at that point, and I was seven years old when that took place.
I am where I am in life because there are people who are what I call the gatekeepers. Part of the community, reached out and decided to mentor me into organisations, into companies, creating a pathway for me to get in.
And are we creating pathways, are we creating opportunities for people who are not like us to be part of our organisation so that it creates a diverse and healthy environment?
At NANOG we take this very seriously. We have a diversity committee that we put together, comprising of people who are diverse within our organisations. We're very clear and, you know, the young lady was talking about coming in from ‑‑ Claudia, from policy. If I shift from a RIPE meeting to an ICANN meeting, ARIN or to a NANOG meeting, NANOG is very technically focused. A lot of women that are part of the community tend to be more, say, policy orientated, so when you get into these pure tech organisations, it's going to be ‑‑ it's a really challenge, it's not going to happen by accident. We need to really focus on being more inclusive, supporting people to come into our organisations, making sure that we are safe, and then that they feel that they can belong. Because ultimately hearing diverse voices and points of view will make our organisations stronger and will make them last to decades to come.
MIRJA KUEHLEWIND: So my name is Mirja Kuehlewind, I am the Chair of the Internet architecture Board, the IAB in the IETF but that's not necessarily my role why I'm here. But I want to give you a little bit of an outline about what the IETF, what the problems the IETF has in terms of diversity but also what we're trying to do.
But ‑‑ so, outreach and education, mentoring or whatever it driven by the community and I try to help out sometimes as a community member because maybe my own background actually fits here quite well. I studied in the IETF when I was a first year Ph.D. student so my background is academia continued as always because I had support from other people.
But I'm talking a bit more about the IETF on a high level, so I think there are many, many angles of diversity we are not very good and we're trying to improve because as you say we are an open forum, it's important to get different voices in but just because we are open doesn't mean everybody comes automatically, we have to support these people.
And there is definitely more work to do. So, we have a few programmes running, a lot of these programmes are focused on on boarding newcomers, and as the topic is also used, a lot of people that use these programmes are younger people and we actually have sometimes the opposite problem that when we call somebody newcomer and it's a senior person who comes a first time to an IETF meeting they might not take up the opportunity. But what we offer is of course tutorials and material, but we also have a mentoring programme and we try to match up people which actually have the same technical interest if possible and we have a newcomers dinner usually where we see a lot of younger people meeting up with other younger people sharing experience, there is also newcomers meet and greet with some drinks, where usually I as leadership she up and try to engage with other people which is always interesting to get the perspective.
To these are the things we are doing, we need to improve further. I would like to point out one more thing that is very special for the IETF and which I think is a very valued path for us to get especially younger and different perspective in. And that's the IRTF. So the IETF is ‑‑ the Internet Engineering Task Force and the IRTF is the Internet research task force. And these are effectively two different organisations, of course home together a little bit but the IRTF works differently, there is different kinds of rules, or less rules, it's easier to create a research group there and the whole intention of having this IRTF is really to build a bridge between the engineers from the companies and the industry and academia. And I think this has been very, very successful for us. From both sides I hope.
From IETF perspective, we want to reach two things. One is to make the engineers in the IETF aware of all the good research that's out there, to take that into account in their work. And this is also a point of diversity because the research groups we have are not necessarily all technically we also have research group on human rights for example, which brings in like a completely different set of researchers and people. And just having them at the same meeting in the same environment creates a different discussion.
But then, also on the other side, it is really nice to see these people coming in and contributing to the IETF. Very often, and that's my own experience, as somebody from academia, you are used to kind of dive deep into something to really analyse the whole space, and you can go to an IETF meeting, you pick a problem, you analyse it and you come back and you provide your results. This is highly valuable for the IETF community and I think it's also very much appreciated, so for me that was always a very positive experience.
So, as I said, I think having the IRTF is kind of a unique thing and I think it's very valuable: I also have to say that I think people who start, or come to the IRTF as a Ph.D. student don't necessarily stick around for the rest of their life. There are some examples like me, but I think it's very important that these people get a little bit insight about how the organisation is working because that's also something that they take into their future, carrier and keep in mind later on. Thank you.
Z. BLACE WIKIMEDIAN: Thanks everyone for wonderful world, I'll try to follow up. I will for sure be not as fluent. I don't have a technical background. I have experience of doing technical work as an arts student doing work at the art academy in the invalid nineties and my first computer of Dell canfine OSF and not Commodores or anything visual and beautiful. And in early 2000, I was mostly doing work in multimedia Institute on IT policy, advocacy, flost activism, and this is where my connection and then some of the shares sentiment to what has happened to technology is with all of the issues you are facing now as a community.
I am coming here as which can media and I'm not sure if that's resonates well. How many of you knows the difference between Wikipedia and which can media? Okay, quite a few. So, do it super briefly. Wikipedia is, has been for the past 20 years, one of the most prominent websites mostly in top 20, sometimes in top five even, as the free, open source, open content inencyclopedia publication with three hundred languages and the only non‑profit website of that scale and importance and recognised by the European Commission as you have maybe heard in a previous discussions as one the big platforms. The only non‑profit platform.
And I work as Wikimedia in residence, which means that I for most of my recent work in past three years was entering institutions, organisations, and working in this kind of media to make sure that they can understand both open content, licensing, benefits of opening data and benefits of using open source software.
And services that are freely available through Wikimedia platforms. So Wikimedia has been growing as an ecosystem around Wikipedia, and now has huge Wikimedia foundation based in San Francisco but with lots of national affiliates and user groups all over the world. I am part of two user groups, one is called LGBT plus user group and the other is called CE, or central eastern European spring user group. So I'll talk a little bit about those two.
And particularly intersection al maybe perspective of what does it mean to address people who have multiple disadvantages when entering these fields. They might be both young and queer, or they might be young and eastern European and unprivileged socially, economically, linguistically, culturally or in other ways, and just last week, literally, seven days ago ‑‑ no, less, five days ago, I finished production of one of the most ambitious projects we did in decades of existence of Wikimedia LGBT user group, we did the first querying Wikipedia conference which was the first of its kind conference that LGBT plus topics were central to Wikipedia and we were doing it as bilingual, trans local hybrid conference that stretched our limits but also diversified our audience, or community for the first time that we can say okay now we had people in five continents following us, we had people of colour being key notes and prominent speakers and not just single tokenised person among white privileged individuals. We had bi‑lingual English, Spanish and not just translation to Spanish so you could actually submit content and discuss in Spanish rather than just being translated.
And this was mostly through the support of Wikimedia foundation. And outreach org, if you know this relatively well known programme in flost communities, that supports young developers or people transitioning into software development who have unprivileged background. They are either queer or people of colour or lower social income.
And in terms of CE spring, this is ‑‑
VESNA MANOIJOVIC: I have stopped your time so you take another minute ‑‑
Z. BLACE WIKIMEDIAN: Then I have to finish. The EC spring is maybe another success that is interesting for people who come from central eastern Europe where a lot of communities work in super small Wikipedias that have ten or 15 regular contributors that don't have like English Wikipedia 6 million pages but maybe a few, tense or hundred thousands of pages, but they do essential work for providing basic information to their communities because their communities are too small to do print editionings to have specialised publications, but they could get general encyclopaedic knowledge this way in their own language.
And maybe one of the most important parts of this is that this competition is co‑organised so each language community can award prizes and there are special prizes for those who translate content in between central and eastern European Wikipedias and who foster exchange the decentring English language. So that's I guess the shortest I could do.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Thank you very much.
I would like to open this now discussion to your comments or questions, to any of the speakers or anything else you would like to say, and can I see a show of hands if somebody would like to come onto the stage? Okay, some more? We can replace this set with the next set. But let's wait a minute, maybe there are some questions and then we will do the replacement ‑‑ rotation, okay. Thank you.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Hi, Tina Morris, AWS, also on the NANOG Board that works with Edward. I want to say I heard a lot of good things up there that I have been trying to include in all the communities I participate in. Finding good, smart young people, mentoring them, giving them the tricks of the meetings to be more effective and to feel included and all of those things, creating a path for communication, for newcomers. But the one thing I want to kind of challenge with this lack of young people is this concept: I think it's a bit of a fallacy, and hear me out. We, for somebody that's early in their career to take an entire week off and come to a RIPE or a NANOG and fund themselves is nearly impossible. Nor are they really at the point in their career where it benefits them dramatically. I think where many of us that have been coming to meetings for more years than I'd like to admit, we came into this early when there weren't big companies to train at, where there weren't alternative spaces, and the Internet was being cobbled together at the tables out there, and those people have continued to come and they have become our technical experts and they are doing business development and they have all these other reasons they come now, they are not the junior people. But I think that we aren't going to see that early first five, ten years of people's career at these meetings. They need to learn some basics at their companies. They need to get to a point that they have a thing to come. I'm all for pursuing fellowships online, virtually attendees, all these things that lets them know it's relevant when they are ready, but I don't think we're going to ever get to a point that a third or a half of our room is under 25. It's just an unrealistic goal. I am so grateful to see the faces that are young here, and embrace it if they have a path to start attending and being part of our community. That's wonderful. But I think we're being really hard on ourselves.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Thank you for that. We will take some replies but I also wanted to invite some people who have come here for a whole week and are young and to see like what did they get, what didn't they get? If they feel that they want to speak about it. So first we'll get some answers. Then we will go to that queue and later to this queue.
MIRJA KUEHLEWIND: I just want to agree to that and probably even more in the IETF because the IETF is not like a community meeting, it's a working meeting. So, what we really need is experts who can actually come and do the work. And that's a realtime commitment and we do see that companies of course are like naturally don't send their youngest engineers but the ones with experience and this is extremely valuable to us. So I don't think in the IETF a strong focus has been on youth and I said this earlier, you also talked about young people and newcomers and that's not always the same. So, that's another problem we have.
I had one more point.
Z. BLACE WIKIMEDIAN: One super practical response, because I just did the event that was hybrid and was trying to do these local notes at different locations. What we did as an incentive we said to people gather around yourself just like make a super small group, make like a watch party if you want, we'll pay for basic costs. We didn't pay them much per node, like we released I think €1,000 per node, whoever requested. We just said you will not have to do applications for money, we'll just trust you. You will not have to do extensive reporting, we'll just need your like photos and make sure that someone showed up. And if you feel comfortable reporting and doing something for the programme, you are welcome to but there is no pressure. For example, what other organisations do is create like super competitive calls where people have to know in advance what they will do, how they will do it. You need to write an application, you need to have it processed, and, you know, make bureaucratic hurdles to something that is super simple and tiny support that gets people out of their comfort zone. I mean, I would not say queer Wikimedians are more enthusiastic over spreadsheets than network engineers.
MIRJA KUEHLEWIND: I remember my point.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Then we will get the online questions and after that ill ask you to sit there and you can still take the mic and answer questions but I'd like to have the next four people here.
MIRJA KUEHLEWIND: I remember my point now. So we have these activities like the IRTF which kind of bring in more people from different communities and broader perspective but for let's say the hard core technical work, we really depend on who the companies are sending us, so in a lot of cases we don't have this in our hands it's on the companies trying to also help with diversity and bringing more diverse people in. That's something I wanted to say.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Thank you. I will now ‑‑ another applause for the speakers here.
Please stay in the room, maybe there will be more questions, there are seats over here. Who wants to be the next person on the stage? Just come up and then you get the mic and you get the preference. And while you are coming here, you can please read the question from the online participants.
SPEAKER: We have a question from Karla Wagner. "A lot of good things said but I hear no goals, strategy, nor concrete measures planned. I hear about race, queerness, multinational but nothing about Women in Tech which was. Excellent words but what are your male led and mostly male organisations planning to do about actively opening to women at all levels not just entry level, to middle management but leadership?"
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Excellent question, Karla. We are not I think entitled to, or kind of answer that but we'll get back to it later I think unless somebody from leadership wants to pick up this and reply right now? Speaker speaker we also have a comment. Can I read it.
Another comment is from Randy Bush. "Beware that industry wants young people because they cost less which means pay equity see issue for youth and for under represented classes."
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Good, but let's go back to Karla's questions.
SPEAKER: I just want to share what Shane's just observed to me that the Chair of the RIPE community is a woman. You know, we do have female leadership in the RIPE community.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Okay, but I'm sorry to disagree with that of course, but that exception doesn't really describe the actual rule that Karla was right to point out. There is a gender disparity but right now let's not talk about it because we have some young people here on the stage. We will wait Denesh because we have somebody there on the mic first so you first and then you and you.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Hello, my name is Moira and I just wanted to build off of a previous point. I am 19, I am sitting electrical engineering, it would be nearly impossible for me to be here if I wasn't being sponsored by people inside of the community privately, and that's all. So, there are people who are interested in networking and there are people who are interested in stem, it's just nearly impossible for us to make it here. Thank you. All of your support is appreciated for young people, all of your support and inclusion is appreciated for young people and being as friendly as you all are. Thank you.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: May I rephrase this for the notes. Can this be heard as a recommendation to support diversity tickets or youth tickets to find sponsors for the youth participation and diversity participation. Thank you. This is the call to all the rich companies in the industry to give their money to support the next generation. Thank you. So we are going back to the stage.
SPEAKER: Hello, I am Melitsa, this is my second RIPE meeting. My first was in Belgrade because I am from Belgrade, and I am glad that I see a lot of more people than last session diversity in tech. I am here for a whole week. It was difficult because I'm final year of a bachelor's study but I was really impressed for last RIPE, because I met so many people from the industry and I learned about some new stuff because in the faculty we learn a lot of everything, but that's more about everything but no new technologies, and I am really glad that I have an opportunity now I am here for a fellowship from RIPE, and I'm really glad that I'm here because it's really good opportunity to young people because we met some people from the industry and it's really good chance and I know that a lot of young people wants to be here but financial stuff and everything, it's a really big problem. So, I don't know, it's ‑‑ I think it's really great.
SPEAKER: Hello everybody. I am Jenna Shelton, I am a second year bachelor's student at the university of applied sciences in Utrecht. I study open ICT. That's different from a regular bachelor, we don't do any lectures, we don't do any tests, we don't even have any subjects. Instead, we just start working in scrum teams with students at companies from the start. And I am very happy to be here today. Thanks to the free ticket RIPE gave me. Thank you. And I am open to answering questions you all have.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Now we go to Denesh and that mic and then ‑‑
MIRJAM KUHNE: I do want to add anything because what the Jenna said even why she got a free student ticket to be here all week thee took the initiative to travel everyday, three hours to here and back everyday the whole week because she did not ‑‑ she wasn't able to afford the hotel in Rotterdam. So even though we sponsored like what is it like €150 or something, the rest she is actually doing in other own time and her own initiative. That's how much she wants to be here.
DENESH BHABUTA: Thank you very much.
Some comment from the original panel and also slightly answering Karla's question. Karla mentioned something about strategies and goals and I think this is where we have an ongoing conversation about what the strategies and goals would be or how to get to what the goal is. I think one of the strategies for us would be actually how do we entice organisations and university professors to actually send the students and junior staff? Is there anything you could get a sponsor in for example to go to university and say we will pay for their accommodation and travel to go to this conference and the organiser gives free tickets. I mean that's just something from the top of my head. But it doesn't mean it's a final answer but we need to keep an open mind about how we go about this. So, there are going to be end goals. The strategy of how to achieve them is going to be different. So one of the things ‑‑ one of the problems that the industry has is the lack of younger people, lack of new entrants. Why can't us oldies in our organisation say actually, I can go to this meeting but maybe this time actually not only me, I'll take my junior member of staff with me, because actually I will disagree with Tina here, it doesn't have to be five years, my first RIPE meeting way way back in 1997 was about ten months after I had started my career in the industry. I was pushed into it, I didn't know anyone. But I am just saying that we need to be aware that as oldies need to do much more mentoring than we currently are.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: So, I am one of the younger people who, on my ‑‑ basically for my own choice decided to go here for an entire week, which is quite expensive. This is also my second RIPE meeting ever well in person at least. And something I just want to really highlight as it applies to me, is that I have heard so far a lot about academia but I want to make it clear that not all young people are in academia, there are a lot of young people who are not in academia like myself and we also need to try to make it inclusive for those, we can't put all effort on academia because there are plenty of people outside of it.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Yes. Thank you. That's a very valuable comment. I want to move on because we only have 20 minutes and there is a lot of people already waiting, so first I will give word to that mic and then we'll get back to you.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Constant Dietrich working for Accenture and I think we haven't established how all the young people are yet but I'm going to think about our junior people working for my company, and I must say they are all super eager to do things, but it's also a challenge to give them junior compatible tasks to do. I believe young people need something to do. There could be something like a, I don't know, a backlog from every Working Group that we have of simple tasks that need doing and need support also of course from the Working Group Chairs or other members, but yeah, things they can do on their own and then develop some sort of community feeling and connection to the RIPE. Maybe that's a different perspective from the money topic which of course is valid as well.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Thank you. We will now first go here and then to you.
SPEAKER: I also wanted to add that I think we should do more to promote RIPE among the youth, among the university students, especially here in the Netherlands. I noticed that at my university, there weren't a lot of people actually aware of what RIPE does, and they weren't really interested in RIPE meetings at all, even though they were focused on studying infrastructure and networks. I think we should promote that a little more and expand the social media of RIPE eventually. And maybe replace the mailing list with discord.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Thank you.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Hi, so, I think that RIPE is one ‑‑ likes once you get here, I'll get to the second part, I think it's very easy to continue going to on to RIPE meetings. I have never been in a community that is this nice that has so many opportunities to help its members, especially from countries where money is a little harder to get to. The fellowship programme is awesome. I heard there is a fun for project and there is also for research so I think that is great. The problem is getting here first. So I think that because of the financial sometimes it can be next to impossible. Sometimes also for university students that have the most time to ‑‑ well to get into this, it's a problem we have deadlines and assignments that they have to do. And not all universities are really open to make exceptions.
So, first how I got into RIPE, a big shout out to the network department at TU Berlin they told me you have to go to RIPE, I studied at the university in Ljubljana where I did not have that much luck to be able to go to conferences, or like I did at a huge cost but I am a conference junkie so it was worth it.
The other part for me to get into the previous RIPE, so 85, was basically the fact that I am a conference junkie, I currently have time, that it was cheap in Belgrade and I have friends there. I think that's a huge part that ‑‑ and well and currently that I was at my current university that I was able to ‑‑ I have a bit more free time or like, ability to do my schedule. So I think the question here is to go for the first RIPE meeting, how to alleviate this first problem to break the ice. So maybe one of the ideas that I have to have regional mentors that people can contact and maybe even solve the problem at the university. Some countries are small, I am sure that over there for north Macedonia can help with that, maybe for Slovenia, that could be also that could be done with some of the people in the community and maybe some others were things were by a person that knows a person.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Okay. Thank you I want to move on. Silvan and then you.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Hi, just a very short thing that we have talked about nice ideas, but why don't we put that literally into the sign‑up form for the events that hey, I want to sponsor a ticket or I want to throw down some money for accommodation. That's easy to implement and that's an actual concrete idea.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Hi. My name is Ita, no affiliation. I just wanted to sort of like add my voice as another sort of young person. I am 20. I also do not have a university affiliation and I guess I was going to make the point that Cynthia already made that we exist and not everyone is necessarily associated with academia. I am just this random hobbyist who well really actually Cynthia sponsored and ASN and stuff for me and I got into experimenting with BGP and I found that cool. I would definitely echo Cynthia's point about maybe creating some sort of pricing structure in between the student academia focused thing and then you are company is probably participating for you to go here sort of thing. I don't know. I just ‑‑ I don't really have necessarily that much in the realm of concrete suggestions. I just wanted to highlight that kind of hey, you know, weird hobbyists like me exist that get into playing with networking primarily from actually hands‑on experience point and might not think or is necessarily see the value initially in coming to this sort of conference, and yeah, you know, the sort of pricing structure and also just sort of how the event is presented. I think there is probably room for things to change there in order to sort of make this more accessible to hey you know if you just tinker around with stuff an and you are not a big corporate person, that's fine too.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: That's a good idea. Thank you. We are taking notes. This is all being recorded. We are going to remember all these suggestions. However, if you want to be more elaborate, you can put that in the feedback form. We have a lot of feedback forms and opportunities for to you tell us how else you want things to be done so that will be very useful.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Leonard Wagner, individual network err. This picks up a little bit on the previous point right now. I became aware not because through ‑‑ I became not aware of RIPE because of my company but because of a small volunteer ISP in Berlin where everyone can join as a hobby. So I would appreciate if there are more non‑profit hobbyists around ISPs in the world, because then we have maybe a lower barrier to enter this industry because you don't need to work in a company or something, you can you can look into it if you like to. That's it.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Thank you. Let's go to the gentleman in yellow.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Thank you. Sebastian. I need your help. When I said diversity, they say skill. When I say gender balance, they say skills. When I said equality, they said skill. When I say young people, they say skill. What shall I do? Thank you.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: What is the word that you repeated, skill? Thank you. Anybody wants to answer before we move on? I am sorry, I didn't really understand but we'll get back to you after we cover the current queue.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Can I answer please? What I am understanding by this is that there is a lot of like companies that say we will send the best person from the team regardless of the gender and there is still inside the IT such a big either gender gap, age gap, anything gap, which makes these conferences kind of, I don't like to say but sausage party,
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Thank you for saying it, I would replace the word gap with oppression, there is not just gap gender oppression, race oppression that is making these comments, and these kind of attitudes total fallacy and it is just not correct and I am going to say this in a very strong way, and we can have a discussion later, but thank you.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: I'd like to add one note, that if we want to have here more diversity, we need to begin in our companies with making, accepting communities with checking that there is no single person who starts to bully anybody, because that single person is going to bully your colleagues out to other companies where these bullies are not.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Thank you.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Hi, Ulrika. I am sent here by my employer fortunately, otherwise I would probably not be here. What I want to say is, I'm now 22, and nowadays I feel like I am a well respected community member, so in the sense I don't actually feel like I am being looked down at because of my age, but this has not always been the case, so when I was 15, I went to meet ups of local group doing wireless networks because I was interested in this, and I wanted to help to run their backbone servers, which is also where I heard this first time about BGP. However, they were pushing back a lot because they said no we cannot give you the responsibility to get access to our servers and they really did not trust me to be capable of this, and I want to say please, if young people want to work on something, do something, let them do that, and have trust that they will ‑‑ that they know what they want to be doing.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Thank you. Two last comments. And then we will hear from the stage.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Thank you. So my name is Etienne and I am a researcher at the University of Twente and I want to apologise for bringing up the academia again, but I teach students, master level courses, I have specialist students who do thesis with me and master thesis with me and recently I had a case of a student do couldn't work for a while because his laptop was broken and he couldn't afford. I built him a work station with spare parts from the office he have could continue. Even in the Netherlands that these things can happen that financing is really an issue and I have spoken to a few strong students who would really like to be here but the university is not participating it and they won't pay for it themselves. Financing has to be really on the let's say the table for these groups with well, no income because they are not employed yet. I just wanted to bring that up again. Thank you.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: For a person who works for a faculty for twelve years and managed to make a gender balance almost 50:50 with students and even it's almost 50:50 there, male female but also for Professors we have more female Professors than male in IT I think a perfect way how to motivate the youngsters and I feel young so this works for me also. The first things are already said and that's a possibility to get there. I still remember my first RIPE meeting. It was scarey, as I got this, so I couldn't afford it but still the connections you had and how you start with community is wonderful and this is what's fuelling. One the reasons why I still for 21 years I prepare IO I younger students which high school errs or younger for competitive programming why I do everything else for young TAL event in the last 20‑ish years, and this is how I continue doing that, it's easy for the funding. We take the ten biggest ISPs, we ask them for one ticket per ISP, that's ten young people, we take tend vendors, we ask for one full ticket per vendor, then we take some other IT companies and that's 30 people each RIPE meeting that can fill this. We have something. And then I'm sure if we do that the rest of the community here who is both young and old will continue the whole hacking, working and continuation process.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Thank you. Would you like to say something as a response to any of this?
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Yes, I completely agree that it should be possible for students to attend these type of meetings more. My first meeting, my first tech event was actually at NLNOG. I was recommended by someone who worked at the company in which I was doing an intern ship at that moment, and he really recommended a student to go check it out sometime, and I went there and I really liked it there. Everyone was very social, very nice, and everyone was really helping and it's a very good opportunity for students to find new internships for in future or get help by, get help with projects they are currently doing or being stuck on a bug or something. It's a really nice community.
So I told them to check out RIPE too and I really recommend it.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Thank you. Before you go you can have the last word. You can't, we have two more questions and then you can have the last word. We have one question from online and then we have Maria over there.
SPEAKER: I think it's more a comment from Marilyn Martus. "The biggest issue to solve first increase awareness of all these wonderful parts of the Internet community and outside of the immediate returning participants is difficult to even know what a RIPE, NOG or any other conference is."
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Thanks.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Maria once again. Sorry for not saying my name and affiliation before. I am team leaderboard of BIRD and I'd like to say please, when speaking about academia and the young, please don't forget about requaliicants. Please don't forget about women after 35 or so who were, for ten years, with children at home because the children were demanding. Please don't forget about people in their forties and fifties who were working in another industry which is now declining and now they are trying to requalify to IT. They are the same value as people who are in their 20s. And they are the same juniority. It may sound absurd but I am probably going to hire somebody who is 20 years older than me to a junior position, and I am meaning it very seriously.
VESNA MANOJLOVIC: Thank you. So, we are at the end of the session, and we are going to finish with the young participant and thank you for being here and we'll see you at the dinner or see you tomorrow.
SPEAKER: I just wanted to say that my first RIPE meeting before my first RIPE meeting I was really scary about everything because I was going alone, and it's a really wonderful. I never met so open people, so open‑minded people, and I think it's really a healthy community, and I am so happy I am part of that.
LIVE CAPTIONING BY
MARY McKEON, RMR, CRR, CBC