Two weeks ago we were thrilled to convene the Internet stakeholder community at the 17th annual State of the Net Conference, the nation’s most prominent Internet policy summit.
Speakers at SOTN reflect different perspectives on Internet policy issues. We have long curated the program to highlight differences of opinion among experts from across the spectrum of industry, government, academia, and civil society. Yet, over those 17 years the speakers at SOTN have not always sufficiently represented women and communities of color. Over the course of our 25 year history, those voices have been woefully underrepresented in Internet policy conversations.
We have made strides over the years to bring more diverse voices to the table at State of the Net. We’ve made great progress in some areas and have made incremental improvements in others. In other areas, we haven’t made much of a dent and we need to do better. In the interest of accountability, we’re publishing the below stats regarding speaker diversity at #SOTN2021.*
There is always room for improvement and will work harder. We will also continue our work to create a pipeline for talented Internet policy practitioners of color through the Internet Law & Policy Foundry. The Foundry, which we launched six years ago, is a professional development platform for early career professionals passionate about Internet law and policy. Diversity is a major goal in the Foundry admissions criteria for incoming fellows. We will also continue to inspire students of color to pursue careers in computer science and STEM through the Congressional App Challenge (CAC). Through the House’s official computer science competition for middle and high school students, which we administer, we work to ensure that student participation in the CAC reflects the diversity of the American people. (See impact/diversity).
* BIPOC Defined.
** Our survey of speakers at SOTN was passive. Our data is not a reflection speakers’ attestation of identity.