How to Ensure Speakers Diversity at Your Conference

March 8, 2013   |   AUTHOR: Julius Solaris   |   POSTED IN: tips

Often times women are misrepresented in certain types of events. Here is a interesting tool to ensure diversity at your event.

Diversity Calculator Conferences

Having attended a lot of tech events, I can confidently state that there is a growing problem in that sector. Speakers are usually men.

This is the case also for other industries. And it is not a good thing.

While reading my Twitter timeline, I stumbled upon this interesting update:

I decided to dig further.

Enter the Conference Diversity Distribution Calculator

Aanand Prasad created an interesting tool to calculate the fair representation of a given gender depending on the audience diversity. In fact this seems to be the usual counter-argument given by those who superficially allocate speaker slots. As Anand puts it:

Tech conference speaker line-ups frequently contain few or no women at all. I believe, as many others do, that most conference selection processes are biased towards the dominant demographics—male, young, straight, white, able-bodied, cisgendered—and that addressing and removing this bias is an important part of the battle to increase diversity in the industry at large.

I sometimes encounter the argument that speaker line-ups that fail to adequately represent women are not the product of systemic discrimination, but rather an inevitably frequent occurrence in an industry as male-dominated as ours. On the face of it, this makes intuitive sense.

Human beings, however, are notoriously bad with probabilities.

This probably says it better than most of my previous words. Therefore he decided to create a diversity calculator.

I believe it is an interesting tool.

Taking it Further

The calculator Anand created is a scientific reply to a weak argument. It is a very valuable answer to those stubborn decision makers who believe only to numbers.

We all agree, I hope, that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The iceberg being a medieval (just to avoid saying “utterly idiotic”) way of running events.

I believe, my dear friends, that our mission is to bring change through live experiences.

Choosing a 98% female based speaker line up for a 98% male audience does not mean jeopardising your job. It means bringing change, it means pushing boundaries, it means doing our bit to level up what has been unfair for too long.

Of course such decisions are not always easy to put in practice, alas discriminatory selection shouldn’t be as easy.

Maybe after reading this post, I will lose a bit of the readers who can’t really accept such logic. Well, I am quite happy with that.

In the meanwhile, happy International Women’s Day to all the brave women making this industry great.