Chad Gowler: Asking About Gender

The University’s Front-End Development Community and Playfair Steps recently hosted Chad Gowler ( to give a talk on “Asking About Gender”. This thought-provoking talk promotes awareness of some of the challenges faced by non-binary and gender-variant users, and discusses how we can support their needs in web development.

Slides and an alternate recording can be found here (note that this recording is for an older version and doesn’t cover all of the material in the slides):

This is the second time that I have been fortunate enough to see Chad give this talk. One of the things I really enjoy is that it demonstrates how we need to continually ask ourselves why we are asking these types of questions in the first place. This gets straight to the heart of user-centred design.

For our last talk from Harry Roberts, I wrote up some information about who was in the audience, so I thought it would be interesting to do a comparison. Again, the numbers are taken from our Event Booking system, so only shows who signed up for the event. This won’t be exact, as some people may have booked but not attended (or the other way around).

Fewer people signed up for this event than Harry’s talk, which makes sense given that it is the summer holidays. Overall we had around 70 attendees, as opposed to over 100 for Harry’s talk. The percentage of student attendees was also lower at 12%, rather than around 30%. Again, this makes sense given that is the holidays and there aren’t as many students around.

Breakdown of attendees by type for Chad Gowler's talk

We also had some recent alumni sign up for the event. I was glad to see that they were interested enough in the talk to come back to the University, despite having just graduated! Some of the student attendees have expressed interest to me in coming to some of our future events, so I’m hoping that we can have even more student involvement in the Community next year.

The most interesting part of the audience breakdown is probably in the organisation affiliation.

Breakdown of attendees by organisational unit for Chad Gowler's talk

For Harry’s talk, most of the attendees came from Information Services (about 50%), followed by the College of Science & Engineering – mostly from the School of Informatics. For Chad’s talk, the audience was much more diverse. The majority of attendees still came from Information Services, but this time they only represented about 30% of the audience.  After this, the most well-represented groups were the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences at 26%, followed by other support services (excluding Information Services) at 19%. Most of the support service attendees (over half of this group) came from within Student Experience Services.

Many of the people who attended Chad’s talk don’t appear to work in roles that are related to web development. It was exciting to see how the Community’s reach is growing to include people who don’t fit within the standard “developer” box. This is a great example of how people from different disciplines can come together to collaborate on an area of work. I hope that we will continue to see attendees from all over the University at future events. Here’s looking forward to next year!

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