There are two parts to this blog: firstly a general discussion of diversity at EMF, the second part covers this year’s statistics and forms part of our ongoing commitment to track our work.


We recognise that EMF has a problem in attracting marginalised people to both attend and present at the festival. We want to fix this. Our first step towards this is improving our transparency around diversity: what we’ve attempted and how successful it’s been. From now on we’re committing to publish our statistics around diversity, we will also publish the statistics for all previous years for which we have data. This year has been mixed with regards to diversity, we had a great success in our Arcade where, of the 30 games donated, 16 were led by or created by people of traditionally marginalised backgrounds in the games industry. We’ve also scheduled quiet hours (9am-10am) every day so everyone can enjoy them. A less successful initiative was work with the Leicester Space Centre and Leicester Libraries to bring disadvantaged families over for a day trip; unfortunately this was derailed by factors beyond our control. Amongst other commitments for 2026 we will also be allocating at least £3,000 from our core budget to cover fees for speakers from diverse backgrounds.

If any of this is something you’d like to help us with next time (2026) or, if you know someone who might want to help us, please email

On Recognising a Problem

We recognise that our efforts are lacking when it comes to attracting and offering a space to some groups and communities who are traditionally left out of Tech/Art/Science events. In creating such a large and complex event entirely through volunteer efforts, we recognise that in some areas we haven’t paid enough attention to inclusion, and we may have mirrored some of the disadvantages present in society.

We have made various attempts to change this and we expect that we need to make changes to how we work generally as well as in specifically in our content selection process and outreach attempts. What we are less aware of is what all of those changes should look like. We will look to work with other communities and organisations to seek that knowledge and help.


This event, we will be running a feedback panel on Sunday in the drop-in (workshop 0) tent at 14:30.

We want your honest feedback on any issues - submitting to the CFP, the site, our communications and more. We’re here to listen, take notes and understand. We will not have answers to all your questions but we’ll do our best to make sure you’re heard and that we learn from what you have to say.

Planning for 2026

In 2026, we will continue our transparency on speakers and submissions. We have launched a new diversity page on the website where our statistics will be shown and archived for future events, and it should provide data our future efforts can be measured against. We will improve our voluntary demographic survey next time to help educate our choices, enhance EMF for people with disabilities and learn more about LGBTQ+ needs.

We are keen to improve EMF for all by implementing lessons from your feedback early in the planning cycle. We want to make the event feel welcoming and inclusive to more people from the point where our dates are officially announced.

EMF is a fully volunteer-organised event, and our policy has previously been not to pay speakers more than travel expenses. We fully understand that in order to improve diversity, especially of minority ethnic backgrounds, we need to pay fees; to solve this we’ll be committing at least £3,000 to funding this at EMF 2026.

Our commitments for 2026 include:

  • Collecting statistics for each event to compare against our previous events, and making these public
  • Starting the outreach processes a lot earlier than 6 months before the event
  • Allocating at least £3,000 from our core budget to cover fees for speakers from diverse backgrounds
  • Offering vouchers so invited speakers to bring their networks and introduce EMF to more people
  • Taking on feedback and actioning as much as we can to improve our reach and experience

Get involved

We need your help in opening our event to more people. Our team will take the lead and ultimately are responsible for improving EMF, but we want a diverse group of community champions to support us in this process. We are seeking people who can advise us on how to lower barriers for any group who currently feel they are either not represented at EMF or cannot attend for any reason.

If you are at all invested in improving representation of any community at EMF, we would love you to help us with feedback either in one of the sessions, via email to or by joining the team. All feedback is welcome, even if it’s just a little thought in your head - maybe it’ll be the catalyst for a big change.

What we did this year

That’s not to say we haven’t done anything this year. In addition to our usual outreach, we tried a few new things:


This year we built our own arcade. We only had a short time to do so, but we leveraged our networks and some of the installations that had been submitted to rapidly put one together.

One of the things we are particularly proud of is that of the 30 games that were donated for the arcade, 16 of them have been led by or created by people of traditionally marginalised backgrounds in the games industry.

Invited Speakers

Inviting speakers was an obvious space where we could improve our representation of people who wouldn’t normally come to EMF. As an enthusiastic team, we discovered a few things in the process.

Finding potential speakers takes a lot of time and effort even with personal contacts being offered up from the EMF community. Emailing (even from personal, professional addresses to personal contacts) gave a very low hit rate and offering a free weekend ticket and reimbursement for travel was not sufficient. While free tickets to EMF sound great for our usual audience, it’s quite hard to explain to people who have never been involved in such a community-run event and are overwhelmed with speaking requests.

Unfortunately we had far less success than hoped, largely because we did not start this process early enough for 2024. We are determined to do better for next time. We had many generally positive responses about the idea of speaking at EMF, and will follow up for 2026!

Other Outreach

Another initiative we attempted for this year was to work with our contacts at the Leicester Space Centre and Leicester Libraries to bring a group of disadvantaged families over for a day trip. Ultimately this was cancelled at the last minute due to lack of staffing available at LSC/LL due to a local festival on the same weekend. We will attempt to link with other organisations and try again in 2026.

If you know of a local community that could potentially take up an offer like this, and you’re willing to drive it, please let us know.

How content selection works

While we outreach to speakers, we also have a diverse panel review anonymised versions of all talk and workshop submissions to our Call for Participation. The panel is made up of over 35 people with varying interests and backgrounds, and every panel member recuses themselves when they believe they can identify the submitter. We intend to grow this panel in 2026.

Performances, installations, and youth workshops are difficult to review anonymously due to the content, so these are currently considered separately by the various teams.


We intend to publish these statistics for each EMF, and we’ll try to do the same for previous years where we have data.

The data are gathered by an optional form that we request our speakers (and attendees) fill in. We ask three questions: age, gender and ethnicity, all three are optional. The response rates for each question are given at the bottom of the appropriate table.

Next year we will be adding a disability question to this form to capture that information (and help inform our accessibility work).

Here ‘speaker’ refers to anyone who has a proposal accepted (talk, workshop, youth workshop, performance or installation) through the official EMF CfP. It does not account for attendee content or lightning talks. ‘Response rate’ is the percentage of speakers who responded to that question.

A ‘reviewer’ is a member of our call for participation review panel, they review our anonymised proposals.

Invited Speakers only covers people who agreed to give a workshop or talk. We reached out to over 190 people about potentially giving a talk, but do not record demographic data on those who are not speaking this year.

These statistics are correct as of 2024-05-14, so the final published numbers may change slightly due to last-minute alterations in the schedule.


All Speakers Invited Speakers Reviewers
total 280 16 35


All Speakers Invited Speakers Reviewers
0-15 1 (0.41%) 0 0
16-25 17 (7.0%) 0 1 (4.2%)
26-35 74 (31%) 4 (31%) 3 (13%)
36-45 85 (35%) 5 (38%) 12 (50%)
46-55 41 (17%) 2 (15%) 7 (29%)
56-65 20 (8.3%) 1 (7.7%) 1 (4.2%)
66+ 4 (1.7%) 1 (7.7%) 0
Total 242 13 24
Response rate 86% 81% 69%


All Speakers Invited Speakers Reviewers
Male 155 (67%) 9 (69%) 9 (39%)
Non-binary 21 (9.1%) 1 (7.7%) 5 (22%)
Female 54 (23%) 1 (7.7%) 9 (39%)
Other 2 (0.86%) 2 (15%) 0
Total 232 13 23
Response rate 83% 81% 66%


All Speakers Invited Speakers Reviewers
White 193 (93%) 12 (92%) 19 (86%)
Mixed 6 (2.9%) 1 (7.7%) 2 (9.1%)
Black 1 (0.48%) 0 0
Asian 5 (2.4%) 0 1 (4.5%)
Other 3 (1.4%) 0 0
Total 208 13 22
Response rate 74% 81% 63%

By type

Note that the totals here will differ from those for speakers, because some speakers have multiple submissions (e.g. a workshop and a talk).

Submitted Accepted
Performance 54 (9%) 45 (13%)
Youth Workshop 40 (7%) 21 (6%)
Installation 87 (15%) 77 (21%)
Talk 280 (48%) 130 (36%)
Workshop 125 (21%) 86 (24%)
Total 586 354