Drupalcon Munich - Demographic Observations


After decompressing for a couple of weeks from Drupalcon Munich, some observations have filtered to the surface. This is my 10th Drupalcon. It seems to be hard to believe. I've seen changes to the demographics of the convention that I think are worth sharing.

Our age

Back in 2007 in Barcelona, the average age of the convention go-er really seemed to be about 28 years old. We had some attendees that were older (like me) some that were younger, but by in large we were looking at a group of folks that were not at the beginning of their careers, but certainly not elder statesmen.

5 years later, the average age seems to be around 36-37ish. Again, some younger and some older, but the fascinating thing is that we seem to be aging, as a group faster than 1 year for 1 year. This seems to indicate that we are attracting professionals that are further along in their careers.

Is this good or bad?

Well, it swings both ways. Older community members bring stability and wisdom to the project. Still, like any population, you want enough young folks coming into the fold to replace those that leave. Attrition is a killer and open source software projects like ours can suffer from the equivalent of "HR attrition". Attrition in our community occurs when:

  1. People burn out and stop contributing
  2. People move to another technology
  3. People die

This is natural and to be expected. The challenge is replacing those individuals. They cover the full gambit of workers ranging from coders, to themers, to site builders, to product managers, to project managers, to business developers, to executives.

If we are attracting more mature people to our community, we need to do more to attract younger people into the community. This is critical for the sustainability of the project as a whole.

Our gender

We're doing pretty well on this count. Back in 2007 in Barcelona, the breakdown between men and women seemed to be about 3% women and 97% men. The Drupalchix Meetup at the Con in Barcelona was about twelve people. In other words, women were so under represented it was almost absurd. According to Geek Feminism, in 2007 opensource only had 1.5% representation from women. The technology industry as a whole has 10-30% representation by women.

At the time of Drupalcon Munich, the percentage of women was up to 17% in the Drupal project. The "t-shirt report" in Munich showed 79% men and 11% of women in attendance. This isn't scientific, but shows that no fewer than 11% of attendees were women. This is still not good enough. We need to continue to attract women to the project.

Our growth

If Drupalcons are a slice of the community as a whole, then we have flatlined in our growth. The last couple of American Drupalcons have had very little growth in the number of attendees. In Europe, there continues to be modest growth. Some have argued that this is due to venue size - but my sense given the curve of when the ticket countdown occurs, we would find we just couldn't sustain larger numbers.

Drupalcon Attendance
Growth in Drupalcon Attendance

This points back to our need to more effectively recruit new people.

Recently, on the Drupal Marketing Group, I wrote about our need to diversify. That, as a community, we need to embrace all our cultures. By extension we need to recruit more youth. We need to continue to be inclusive of women. We need to reflect, demographically, the population we want to serve. It should be diverse in age, color, and gender. There is still a lot of work to be done.

GrowthinDrupalcon.png43.13 KB
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I think could have an easy

I think could have an easy explanation: DrupalCons are each year more attractive for business. Business / CEO's / Sales guys normally are older, and the company maybe can't pay flight + high price entrance to send all their youngish-novice-developers to a DrupalCon.
My 2 cents

Flight I can buy - but the

Flight I can buy - but the entrance fee is far lower than most conferences. Even Munich - which was the most expensive yet - was ~$515. This is about 1/4 of the cost of most conference. However, it is an interesting observation that we might being more Executives. This could account for some of the "aging".

I'd also throw in the rise in

I'd also throw in the rise in the number of DrupalCamps and events around the world as being a factor in DrupalCon attendance. I've been around Drupal for about six years now and I've made the decision to attend more camps and only one DrupalCon per year. I think it's a trap (Admiral Ackbar) to look at DrupalCon attendance numbers and read much into the growth and health of our community.


Looking at the steeply

Looking at the steeply increasing DrupalCon ticket prices, truth is that younger and self-employed people simply can't afford to come to DrupalCon anymore.

While the ticket prices have

While the ticket prices have increased (I was able to dig up the prices going back to Boston) they pretty much stabilized at ~$400 USD starting in Copenhagen (about double what Boston cost each attendee). This was quite a bit more expensive in Munich where it rose a little above $500 USD. $500 is still pretty cheap for a professional conference, but I would agree - this could be prohibitive to young guys and gals.

Hi. The "t-shirt report" in

The "t-shirt report" in Munich showed 79% men and 11% of women in attendance.
Uhm, what about the missing 10%? Didn't they collect their shirt ;)

In fact, it was really striking how many women were at the DrupalCon.

Women sometimes buy male-cut

Women sometimes buy male-cut T-shirts, whereas men very seldom buy female-cut T-shirts. The percentage of female-cut T-shirts is therefore a halfway decent "lower bound" for the female attendee rate.

The rate seems to vary by region, too. DrupalCon Chicago was about 18% female-cut T-shirts, I think, leading to a spitball estimate of 20% female attendance. I don't know what Denver's sales were.

Nice demographic estimation

Nice demographic estimation Matt :) but I'm afraid that when you say " The Drupalchix Meetup at the Con in Barcelona was about twelve people" you're linking actually to the Drupal Developer Days Drupalchix meeting of past june, the conference was around 320 ppl with 10% female attendance (30-40 women in total).

Hi Pedro, Webchick reported

Hi Pedro,

Webchick reported in that thread, "And since DrupalCon Barcelona in 2007 was the first time we had a Drupalchix meetup (all ~12 of us), it'd be awesome to have one again!"


Part of the youth question is

Part of the youth question is that Drupal increasingly targets large enterprises and young people who are just getting started in web development tend to work on technologies that are more relevant to their specific needs.

Another way to estimate how

Another way to estimate how many women attend is to use a scraper. I've done this for speakers before.

You can only get data for those who self-identify as a specific gender, but you can also sample those who don't provide their gender and see whether there are other clear indicators. This of course does get fuzzy since there are many community members who identify as other because they simply don't fit into a strict gender binary.

Our trend for female speakers looks as follows:

Europe 2007 -- ~3
US 2008     -- ~11%
Europe 2008 -- ~10%
US 2009     -- ~11%
Europe 2009 -- ~12%
US 2010     -- ~23%
Europe 2010 -- ~11%
US 2011     -- ~22%
Europe 2011 -- ~11%

Anyone can fork my code on scraperwiki to find data for 2012.

Lin - this is AWESOME.

Lin - this is AWESOME. Thanks for posting.

I just wrote a scraper for

I just wrote a scraper for the DC Munich speakers (might run it on the atendees, but i'd have to optimize the code...)
Hope Matthew makes a good use of this data :)

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