WordCamp Asia launches a diversity scholarship

An exciting proof-of-concept that I hope catches on for all events.

Woman with tablet

I’m thrilled to see the news that WordCamp Asia has launched a diversity scholarship, which will allow one person to have their airfare, hotel and ticket paid for so they can attend the event without financial burden.

“One of WordCamp Asia’s key concepts is to make our event a truly welcoming experience – an inclusive, affordable, and interactive place for WordPress community members to gather.”

Naoko Takano, WordCamp Asia organizer

If you’re interested in attending WordCamp Asia and the scholarship would help you afford the trip, you can learn more and apply here.

As you know, I think the expense of traveling to major WordCamps (US, Europe, Asia) is a big part of why we see a lack of racial and gender diversity in the speaker slates and attendees at many of these events. I think it would be a huge help if WordCamp paid for speakers’ travel, and we’ve had great success with our third-party WordCamp Travel Sponsorship Program, which we’re excited to bring back for a second year in 2023.

The best thing about the WordCamp Asia program, though, is that it is official. One of the barriers to people participating in third-party travel programs, like ours and the Yoast Diversity Fund, is that they’re not clearly advertised on official WordCamp pages, so a lot of people simply don’t know they exist. Winstina Hughes, the creator of Support Inclusion in Tech, has asked more WordCamps to link to her program to increase awareness. We’re hard at work spreading the word, but the fact that this is now an official scholarship is a huge improvement. (There is one other official scholarship, the Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship, which appears to be a model for this new WordCamp Asia Diversity Scholarship.)

I would love to see WordCamp US and WordCamp Europe adopt the same exact scholarship program that WordCamp Asia is now running – and expand it to offer many more scholarships to help increase racial and gender diversity at these important, career-building events. The fact that WordCamp Asia is doing this proves that it is possible for WordCamp to provide travel funds to people – and that the argument that “the organization is not set up to pay people” is just untrue.

So, to the teams running WordCamp US and Europe in 2023, I ask you: what further barriers are there to funding travel for speakers and organizers to help improve racial and gender diversity at WordCamp events?

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Rob is the CEO of HDC and the Publisher of MasterWP.

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