The Elephant at GeekyCon: Data

In June, Uplift launched Elephant at the Con, a campaign dedicated to shining a light on convention safety issues by collecting attendee stories and quantitative data on harassment, identity, and other con safety issues. This is the third in a series of posts highlighting the data we’ve collected. See the others in our Medium collection.

At the con, Uplift volunteers surveyed over 150 attendees with the following questions from our Elephant in the Con Survey.

Note that since GeekyCon is a new conference in its second year, but most GeekyCon attendees previously attended LeakyCon, we decided to group the statistics here for both conferences.

Overall Safety

Note: The options “rarely” and “never” were offered, but not selected by any of the attendees
Note: the option “rarely” was offered, but not selected by any attendees

Demographics

The demographics of those surveyed, less than 13% cis male and more than 58% LGBTQIA+ highlight why many attendees feel that cons like GeekyCon are their safe spaces. Racial diversity, at least in those surveyed, is lacking and absolutely an area where improvement is needed.

Sharing Identity

As highlighted in our GeekyCon stories post, Geeky took several proactive measures this year (all but one set of restrooms were gender neutral and volunteer training included education on pronouns), but since 88% of attendees surveyed were Cis Male or Female, there is work to be done to make the con inclusive in these areas. For sexuality, over 75% of attendees across all identities consider Geeky a safe place to share their sexuality.

Each of these statistics represents the percent of people who reported that identity answering the given questions as Always, Sometimes, Usually, etc.

Note: due to the low number of responses for these categories, Trans male/female as well as agender/genderfluid/nonbinary were combined. Though each of these have complex issues that ideally could be tackled quantitatively, for the purpose of statistical significance these had to be combined.
Note: due to the low number of responses, the Asexual category here also encompasses Demisexual/Greysexual

I feel safe at Leaky/Geeky

Overall most attendees feel safe at Geeky, though issues like one attendee taking down gender neutral bathroom signs, certainly contributed to the decreased feeling of safety among trans attendees.

Cis Women were an overwhelming majority of attendees surveyed, yet nearly a quarter “usually” as opposed to “always” feel safe. In most environments, majority group attendees would be expected to feel extremely safe, but privilege from the real world carries over into cons and though cis men were a small percentage of attendees, frequently (though not always) the perpetrators come from this group.

For the most part, from those surveyed, race was not linked one way or the other to feelings of safety.

Someone has verbally harassed me at LeakyCon/GeekyCon

Like overall safety, verbal harassment is more prevalent in those surveyed among the Trans and Agender/Nonbinary/Genderqueer attendees. Though there was marginally more harassment reported by Asexual, Bisexual and Straight attendees for sexuality and white and hispanic attendees for race, these were also the most prevalent demographics overall, so there isn’t a significant link between verbal harassment and race or sexuality.

Someone has touched me without my consent

Someone has sexually harassed or assaulted me

Cis women were the only people reporting sexual harassment or assault. The other demographics were not substantial enough to visualize. Again, given that they were a clear majority group at GeekyCon this is notable though unsurprising, since this aligns with overall trends outside of cons.

We would like to underscore that, even though the percentage of people reporting sexual harassment or assault in our survey was low (less than 2%), even one assault at a con would be too many and sexual assaults in general are highly underreported. There is plenty of work to be done to create a harassment-and-assault-free con.

Comparing to VidCon

A substantially higher percentage of LeakyCon/GeekyCon attendees felt safe at the con and demographically GeekyCon was more diverse by sexuality, but less diverse by race. All of this analysis assumes the people we surveyed were representative of the overall con. For the complete analysis of VidCon, read our post on The Elephant At VidCon.

VidCon results
GeekyCon/LeakyCon results
VidCon results
LeakyCon/GeekyCon results
VidCon Results
LeakyCon/GeekyCon results

Conclusions

The data combined with the GeekyCon stories we collected indicates that the actions of the GeekyCon community and the Mischief Management staff to make cons more inclusive and safe through trans-inclusive policies, painless reporting mechanisms, and banning toxic attendees are working. However, there is work to be done on the community and organizer front to make future cons even safer.

What can you do?

The numbers are only the beginning, check out our GeekyCon stories post for the stories behind the data. Want Uplift to run a similar survey at another con or have questions about this project? Tweet or Email us.

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