Give ‘em What They Want

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Have you ever been at a party where everyone was talking about a particular subject, but you couldn’t think of anything meaningful to contribute? Then, after three days of stewing about it, you finally think of something to say, but by then the party is over and no one you talk to remembers the original conversation ever took place? Yeah, that’s what this is.

I’m referring to the conversation Kottke started regarding gender diversity at tech conferences. I’m not going to link to all the relevant posts — you can find them if you’re really interested. I just want to point out something: Some conference organizers argued that they book the speakers people want to see, regardless of gender, race, etc. Here’s the thing: SXSW, which had one of the highest percentages of female speakers among the conferences Kottke researched, hosted panels that were voted on by the public. So it certainly seems that, when asked, the tech community wants more variety. Of course, there’s probably twenty different ways to look at this, but I would hope conference organizers would see this as evidence that you can fill seats without booking the same speakers for every conference.