- We're missing out on 50% of the people who could be good engineers. Programming is a really effective tool for improving our world, so any waste of talent is a Bad Thing.
- Whatever the moral arguments, accepting go-go dancers at events sucks as a way to attract women into our world.
Is shaming conference organizers the most important change we can make? Hell no, but it's low-hanging fruit. It gives us a zero-effort way to advertise that we as a community want more women here. If we can't even manage this, god knows how we'll make any real changes.
It's pretty depressing to read this thread, I thought there was a widespread consensus that the lack of women in computing was a problem. I'd be interested to know if any of the commenters defending the conference agree or disagree that it's important to get more women into our field?
The most plausible explanation for the imbalance is that women don't lack the innate ability, they're discouraged from developing it. Why do I say that?
- Some professions requiring comparable skills (eg actuaries, accounting) contain many more women.
- There's no known mechanism or evidence to explain why women might be innately bad at programming, but there's lots of well-documented mechanisms by which women could be discouraged from joining the community.
I'd be happy to learn from evidence that contradicts this argument, but in the absence of that, the simplest explanation is that we're wasting the potential of thousands of proto-programmers.