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"Discriminating. Positive or negative. Is wrong."

Wow. Such bold words. Except it's meaningless (or worse). Every person who submits a topic (PHP? jQuery?) to a conference that doesn't fit what the organizer(s) wants is 'discriminated' against. Every topic that is selected is 'discriminated' for.

Uh. Oh. That. Is. Wrong.

Sounds so much better when you. use. lots. of. periods. right?

FWIW, I organize what has so far been a 3-track 1 day tech conference with 21 slots. I go out of my way to make sure there are female speakers there (IIRC we had 5 or 6 this year).

Why? It's a factor that helps bring more audience in. Based on surveys and f2f chats, women have told me they're more likely to attend because they'll be more comfortable knowing women are presenting. More potential audience means more potential sales means lower losses or perhaps even a small profit.

There's other reasons I do this. The notion of saying that the organizers can pick "the best" presenters and topics is, at best, a guess, but is more often delusional. I've been to plenty of conferences where some 'big name' presenters were utter crap and the lesser known people were a mixed bag.

Getting a more diverse audience to attend - made easier by a more diverse speaker panel - will help improve networking opportunities, as you'll have people from more walks of life and with more diverse networks and opportunities of their own mixing and meeting. If everyone thinks the speakers and topics are the sole reason to attend tech conferences, you've either only been to one or two, or you're asocial, or perhaps trying to justify the non-diverse speaker range after the fact (yes, there's more options, but those spring to mind, especially the first one).

Mixing/mingling/networking at conferences - a place to let your hair down and meet others with common interests but different backgrounds - is (for me and several others I know) one of the prime reasons to attend conferences now. Many conferences put up speaker videos; many times the sessions are the 5th time a topic has been presented, or you've seen it before, or it's from the speaker's book; ask him (it's almost always a him, right?) about something in the hallway.

Hallway chats and networking sessions are never put up on video sites afterwards, yet are probably the most important parts of face to face conferences. These are the events where we can be human with a range of people. When that range is 200 white men under 30, it's less valuable overall, and when those people all hit 40, and are still seeing conferences that are all featuring under 30s white men, they'll probably start to understand the 'discrimination' thing.




Let me see if I get this straight.

Sexist women will choose conferences based on the gender of the speaker. Due to greed, and because these women are so desirable to have at conferences (why?), we should therefore discriminate in speaker choice.

Have I missed anything?


Yep, that's it. 100%. Bonus points for use of the neutral word "sexist".


And why is it that women get a pass for being sexist, but men don't? If women want to be treated equally, then it should be okay if men refuse to attend their conference talks as well, right? After all, we're only doing what they're already doing.


"Why? It's a factor that helps bring more audience in."

So let the market fix it, no need for affirmative action. It's just targeted advertising to move your product, at the end of the day.


Never thought of that. Thanks.




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