Sunday, March 23, 2008

Unfortunately Regularly Scheduled Programming

Seems like all too often the topic of gender diversity on conference speaking rosters arises. This time it's Google getting some heat. I found out via Susan Mernit, who in true bloggy fashion found out from someone else, that an upcoming Google developer event has a 37 to 1 ratio. That is 37 men speakers and 1 woman.

Susan's point is not only that there surely is a better ratio than that out in the real world, given that even folks that cite fewer women than men in the field as an excuse don't claim that the percentage is 2%. Her point is also that developers need to care about who they're developing for, and the simple truth is that women comprise the majority of Internet users (at least in the U.S.)

Susan has a commenter who wants to hear nothing of gender or race...that it doesn't matter to him and he wishes everyone was the same. That's awesome for you. I often hear even women say I don't think of myself as a woman developer or woman fill-in-the-blank. That's also awesome for you.

But I can assure you that, while you may not think of yourself as a woman xxx...just about everyone else does.

Instead of trying to swim upstream on it, I believe we need to emphasize Susan's point: your users, your audience, your customers...they want to see a reflection of themselves when they look at your company.

Because when they don't they see fearful visions of pink browsers dancing in their head.

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