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February 25, 2007


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Eric Suesz

I hear what you're saying, and I get it, but perhaps if we knew how many men and women attended these particular events, percentage-wise, we might be able to draw some conclusions beyond the seeming truth that the Web (still) hates women. Also, it may stand to reason that nearly all organizations "hate" women in this fashion. For example, are churches any better at this? I would bet an academic convention is better, but I can assure you that a gun convention is going to be worse. Model train builder convention: don't even ask. I guess what I'd like to know is how much "worse" does the Web hate women than usual. It may be that the Web actually "likes" women. Anyway, not haranguing you; it's a tricky subject. Ya got balls for bringin' it up (tee-hee).

Jason Schultz

I'm not sure what we'd really learn from the percentages of men and women attending the conferences, actually. I personally know dozens of women who could speak on these panels and who are at the cutting edge of these fields. Even if the entire audience was men, there's no reason not to invite an equal number of women and men to speak on panels.

Now, if you try to invite women and they turn down the opportunity, you have a more complex problem (e.g., maybe they're not interested or maybe your conference is hostile to women -- hard to know). But I think there's no excuse for failing to send out gender-balanced speaker invitations.

As far as the comparison to gun conventions, I've never been to a gun convention, but I know a ton of women who attend web conferences. For example, if you go to South By Southwest Interactive, easily 30-40% of the attendees are women.

It's also a cause-and-effect issue, e.g., if more women spoke at these conferences, more would attend.

And not all organizations hate women. there are tons of professional conferences that have good gender balance in both speakers and attendees. Law conferences, for example, are not perfect but are often more gender balanced, even in the area of high technology and intellectual property law.

But again, I don't think this is a classic "pipeline" issue where the argument is that there aren't enough women in the field yet. There are enough women. We know who they are; we just have to start inviting them to speak.

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