Thanks to everyone who submitted a programming proposal!

For this year’s TypeCon in Seattle, the call for programming proposals changed quite a bit … all for the better, in the Board’s opinion. Now that over 60% of all selected proposals have been confirmed by the speakers, we feel confident about the numbers and would like to share some of the details.

Submission Policies & Protocols

Now in our second year of using an automated system to accept proposals, we have been able to refine (and will continue to refine in coming years) the wording, descriptions, explanations, and other details in order to better guide prospective submitters through the process. (For example, next year we will be increasing abstract length beyond 1,500 words). The years of someone just emailing a Board member at the last minute, providing incomplete details, or proposing-and-completing-later are a thing of the past.

By relying on this automated collection system, it insures that all data is imported directly into our scoring matrix. There is less chance of omissions or errors and insures accurate delivery of selected proposal data into the actual design of the program for both print and the website.

The Submissions, By The Numbers

This year, we had more than a 40% increase in submissions. Admittedly, this caught us off guard despite expecting a marginal increase. As such, it slowed us down a few days in terms of reporting and responding. (Honestly, that was a good problem to have.)

This year, we received 148 completed proposals for consideration. Here’s the demographic breakout based on submission type:

Main Program: 40.5% Women / 59.5% Men
Education Forum: 44.0% Women / 56.0% Men
Workshops: 50.0% Women / 50.0% Men

The overall breakout for submissions was: 43.6% Women / 56.4% Men

If you factor out multiple submissions by individuals, the submission breakout was: 46.2% Women / 53.8% Men

The Board could not be happier with these results.

The Selection Process

Following the recommendations of the 2015 TypeCon Diversity Committee report, this year’s reading and scoring of proposals for the Main Program was handled using a double-blind format. All proposals were placed in the scoring matrix with presenter names and credentials redacted. Proposals were scored based on the merit of the abstract on a 0 to 5 scale, with 0 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Readers and scorers included members of the SOTA Board, as well as non-affiliated, non-board members.

Scorer breakout based on submission type:

Main Program: 5 Women / 3 Men (Maximum score per submission: 40)
Education Forum: 2 Women / 2 Men (Maximum score per submission: 20)
Workshop: 4 Women / 3 Men (Maximum score per submission: 35)

SOTA Board Chair, Neil Summerour, abstained from scoring in order to import data into the scoring matrix and provide scorers their reader designations. One week was allowed for all scoring to be entered. All scoring was reviewed by the Programming Committee with highest scoring proposals filling up, in order, the available slots within the program matrix.

Further following the recommendations of the 2015 TypeCon Diversity Committee, the Programming Committee removed 40% of the 40-minute speaking slots and replaced them with more 20-minute speaking slots, allowing for more speakers and what is believed to be a more diverse range of content.

The Programming Committee was limited only by the amount of speaking slots available for the Main Program and Education Forum and classrooms available for workshops. Once the available slots were filled, three alternate proposals were assigned to account for any last-minute cancellations by accepted speakers.

One disappointing variable: a lot of great submissions just didn’t make the program. It’s everyone’s loss … as there just wasn’t enough room in the schedule. Even after extending the length of the program and creating four additional speaking slots, we were still left with speakers we wanted to see included.

On the upside, the program is going to be amazing this year and we can’t wait to reveal more details in the coming weeks!

The Program, By The Numbers

Until the entire program has been finalized with dates and time slots assigned, this is what we have:

Main Program: 48.5% Women / 51.5% Men
Education Forum: 46.0% Women / 54.0% Men
Workshops: 50.0% Women / 50.0% Men

Again, the Board cannot express how excited we are about these numbers and the quality of programming for this year’s event in Seattle.

On a side note, we’ve learned a great deal this year having switched to a double-blind format. We will be providing those insights to everyone who submitted a proposal this year. We will also provide a special writeup to be added to the proposal guidelines in order to help direct individuals for next year’s submissions.