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EightSquaredCon statement on gender parity

By Petrea Mitchell| April 28, 2012 | Comments Off on EightSquaredCon statement on gender parity

EightSquaredCon, next year’s Eastercon, has posted a long and thoughtful statement titled “Why we are committing to Gender Parity on Panels”. It sets out the specifics of their policy:

We will therefore, as a default, look for two good female and two good male panel members, and will keep track of moderators to ensure that we are not ending up with (as all too often happens) mainly male moderators.

And examines the roots of existing imbalances:

2) Eastercon membership now shows broad gender parity; fandom is no longer male-dominated (at least not in terms of numbers, and arguably not in terms of active participation.)

3) The Eastercon membership, taken collectively, constitutes an exceptionally interesting, experienced and well-qualified group of people. In my own expericne I recall one prominent visiting science lecturer saying that of all the audiences he’d given talks to, including major science festivals, the Eastercon membership was the most engaged and erudite he’d ever seen.

[…]

Historically the bias was because (2) was not true, but that’s not really valid any more. It is more likely that what happens is that (3) is not fully exploited and that in practice the pool of programme participants is drawn from a relatively small subset of convention membership. That pool is small in part due to inertia (“Andy, Bob and Charles always do well on panels”) and partly because women may feel disinclined to volunteer for programme if they see that panels are male-dominated.

It also provides historical background, and rebuts some of the arguments made against such a policy when the discussion began earlier this year. The whole thing is well worth a read.

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