Some Meaningful Numbers from The Amazing Meeting 9

Yes, there are categories of “diversity” other than gender and geographic location, but Brian Thompson at the James Randi Educational Foundation shares some numbers showing the skeptic community is at least doing better than we were before.

Ideally, it’s an indication of what’s to come:

… If the skeptics community is going to thrive and grow, it’s essential that no one feel unwelcome or excluded due to race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. And we think our programs are better if they draw on the talents of everyone, not just one segment of the population or another. There is always room for improvement, but here are some recent statistics to show the progress we’ve been making:

This year, 1,672 people attended TAM 9. Of the 1,593 who pre-registered, only 26 were Las Vegas locals. We had attendees from every U.S. state save Wyoming, Delaware, and Rhode Island. 13% of our attendees were from outside the U.S., and 4% were from outside North America. A whopping 52% were first-time attendees, which demonstrates TAM’s phenomenal growth. We had almost doubled the attendees this year from just two years before.

Just over 40% of our registrants and half of our speakers were women. In fact, there was higher gender and racial diversity on our program than at any previous TAM. The high number of female participants seems to indicate that women feel welcome at TAM. And the diversity in our program isn’t the result of any sort of quota system. We simply feel our program was the best we could assemble and reflects the diversity inherent in our community.

Those last two sentences may be the most important.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Anonymous

    Considering that there is a fair amount of data to suggest that, at least in the US, more men identify as atheist than women, a 40% registration seems like it could be purely reflective of the proportion of male to female in the community, maybe even slightly high. I’m glad they did it by registration, because that more closely reflects the feelings of those in the community, and not neccesarily the leaders who are speakers.

    A good sign, though I remain convinced that we need to concentrate more on local groups (not just in terms of diversity, more attention generally) and less on a deluge of increasingly repetitive national conferences. We need grassroots communities where people can make real-life friendships and feel backed up by a flesh and blood community. Big national shows are nice, but making it so a new atheist can feel assured that they have a place nearby where people will understand them, no matter what the larger community is like, is more important.

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Tom Lawson

    So Sin City has a majority of “born sinners?” Makes sense.

    • Morphomel

       More like our unemployment rate is around 14% and the cost of attending was prohibitively expensive.

  • Rich Wilson

    Um, what happened to I_Claudia’s comment?  Did you delete it I_Claudia?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Hi all, Disqus is having issues where comments are getting deleted. We’re aware of it and working on it.

    • Anonymous

      Nope, it just disappeared. This has happened once before and I see it’s not only my problem. I’ll try to remember to treat the blog as an unreliable comments area and copy all my comments before posting, at least until it gets fixed. I’m far too lazy to rewrite the entire damn thing, especially since I’m incapable of short comments.

  • Boz

    I thought that TAM attendance was invite-only?  That regular peasants like me are not allowed to just turn up on the day.

    Is this true?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Nope, anyone can register. But you do have to register before tickets are sold out.

  • Rspeeter

    Only 1,672 attended! Every podcast I listen to goes on and on about TAM and how great it is. I assumed that thousands attended.  There are 25 or more megachurches that can match this number each week.  I just find this number depressing.

  • Steve

    I was a first-timer and I thought it truly was amazing. Four major-speaker packed days for less than $500 didn’t strike me as expensive. Especially since the speakers were of such high quality. And, as regards the mega-churches filling more seats… I’d rather be in hell with the people I met and listened to at TAM, than in heaven with the mega-church people.