A Simple Suggestion to Help Phase Out All-Male Panels at [Church] Conferences

At the Atlantic, Rebecca Rosen offers “A Simple Suggestion to Help Phase Out All-Male Panels at Tech Conferences.” Rosen writes:

Dear Men,

Have you noticed that a lot of the time it just seems like, gosh, there are a lot of dudes speaking at this conference? Perhaps you’ve been on a panel and you’ve looked around and seen man after man after man. Maybe you’ve thought, it’s too bad the organizers didn’t think to balance this out a bit more and ask some women to speak too.

I love that this has bothered you. And I am happy to tell you about a simple step you can take to help change this: Refuse to speak on all male-panels. Just say no.

… The conference organizer is not the only person here with power. If you have been asked to speak on or moderate a panel, make it your business to ensure that this does not happen. We created a simple pledge that our editor Alexis has taken. Feel free to add yourself or make the pledge in your head privately.

Rosen offers a little pledge form to sign and everything. The pledge reads:

I will not speak on or moderate all-male panels at technology and science conferences.

Excellent idea — too good not to steal.

Rosen’s point, and her pledge, seem applicable and desperately needed for the realm of church and theology conferences as well. So let’s adapt and adopt her pledge accordingly:

I will not speak on or moderate all-male panels at church and theology conferences.

But then involving more people means applying more pressure for change. And involving more people also empowers more people to be the kind of people who can bring about change.

So let’s adapt this pledge further to be something that those of us who aren’t the sort of people usually invited to speak on or moderate all-male panels can participate in as well:

I will not speak on or moderate or attend all-male panels at church and theology conferences.

 

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  • http://beholdconfusion.wordpress.com/ beholdconfusion

    Or how about, “I will not speak on or moderate or attend all-male panels. Period.”  

    Except for obviously male dominated subjects, “Fatherhood in the Modern World,” or “My Experience with Erectile Dysfunction,” any field ought to have expert women.  It should go the other way too, men should be represented in female dominated fields.  I’d love to hear a man’s experience in early childhood education.  

  • spinetingler

     “‘My Experience with Erectile Dysfunction,’…ought to have expert women.”

    Indeed.

  • Wednesday

    Well, a trans woman might have something to contribute there. (Or someone who is physically intersex but identifies as female.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=823360136 Eric Sun

     I cannot see why a woman would not be able to speak on “Fatherhood in the Modern World”.  Aren’t some women married to those who are Fathers?  Don’t a lot of women have fathers?

  • Carstonio

    Good pledge. Perhaps we could expand it to the lineup of witnesses testifying in Congress on contraception.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    However this rule is maybe a bit awkward to try to follow if you are yourself a woman

  • Figs

     The letter is explicitly addressed to men.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I pledge not to read open letters addressed exclusively to men.

  • http://twitter.com/cdbaca Christopher Baca

    Not that I’m not a feminist and don’t desire diversity, especially at conferences. However, (and again, not that this would actually happen) doesn’t this logically lead to all-female panels? I value men and women equally as human beings, which means I value diversity and equality, not the non-existence of men in these conversations and conferences.

  • Figs

     How in the world would this lead to all-female panels? If a man says he won’t speak on an all male panel, and then they add a woman, and he agrees, then you’ve still got an almost-all-male panel. I don’t see the mechanism for this leading to FEMALE DOMINATION. Enlighten me.

  • http://twitter.com/cdbaca Christopher Baca

    Calm down there, Figs.

    I misread the OP, particularly in light of the mess emergence is in with the Phyllis Tickle debacle. I suppose as long as it doesn’t turn into refusal to allow men on panels or men being afraid of participation, then I’m all for it. It just seems like some people who call themselves feminists aren’t actually feminists, they just find any male voice to be non-credible simply because they are male. I’d hate to see that as much as I hate male-dominated discussions now.

  • Figs

    So it’s OK to you to be more inclusive of women, as long as those wily women address your imaginary concern that they’re secretly out to EXCLUDE ALL MEN?

    Seriously?

  • Carstonio

     

    as long as it doesn’t turn into refusal to allow men on panels

    But no one is proposing that, so there’s no valid reason for you to bring it up. Please explain why you think that a push for diversity on such panels would lead to exclusion of men.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     I suppose as long as it doesn’t turn into refusal to allow men on panels
    or men being afraid of participation, then I’m all for it. It just
    seems like some people who call themselves feminists aren’t actually
    feminists, they just find any male voice to be non-credible simply
    because they are male. I’d hate to see that as much as I hate
    male-dominated discussions now.

    Careful, there.  Your privilege is showing.  And you shouldn’t get that straw feminist too close to open flame, either.

    Very few people argue in any sort of seriousness that a male voice = not credible by default.  The actual argument is that the male voice is taken as and assumed to be the default.  Organizers of conferences then basically manage to get away with maintaining the status quo by saying, “Welp, we have some guys who are well-known and are big draws at panels all the time, we’re all good.”  They then ignore the bit that if you keep listening to the same voices talking about the same things you’ll always get the same results.

    What the idea of not participating in all-male anything is saying is, “Just shut up and let the women speak for a bit.”  I, as a man, am all for that.  I’ve tried to develop a habit of shutting up and letting women speak.  It turns out that they often have interesting and worthwhile things to say.  It also turns out that they often have interesting and worthwhile things to say about things that I assume aren’t a big deal because they don’t impact my life in any noticeable way.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

     It just seems like some people who call themselves feminists aren’t
    actually feminists, they just find any male voice to be non-credible
    simply because they are male.

    I’ve heard many non-feminist and anti-feminist men make that exact same claim, both in general, and about specific feminists.  In my experience, when pushed to defend that perception or claim, they usually come up short.

  • stardreamer42

     Why is your immediate response to someone pointing out a HUGE LOGICAL HOLE in your argument a patronizing “calm down there”?

  • Leum

     How on Earth does this logically lead to all-female panels?

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     Not that I’m not a feminist and don’t desire diversity, especially at
    conferences. However, (and again, not that this would actually happen)
    doesn’t this logically lead to all-female panels? I value men and women
    equally as human beings, which means I value diversity and equality, not
    the non-existence of men in these conversations and conferences.

    Yes.  It leads to all-female panels in exactly the same way that gay marriage leads to the end of straight marriage.

    Or, to be less flip: a “panel discussion” usually has four to six people on it.  Bringing, say, three women into a six-person panel still means that three men are on the panel.

  • AnonymousSam

    Yes, this. The assumption that minorities (or underpowered majorities, since “women” is a pretty significant category of people!) don’t actually want equality, they want to dominate over everyone instead, sounds to me a lot like the privilege pie fallacy (“privilege is a pie; when you give privilege to others, that means less pie for everyone else”). Privilege can be shared, and that’s the point of movements like this.

    Edit: Shared without diminishing the whole, that is.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     The thing about pies is that even without making there be more pie, you can typically share it around to the satisfaction of more people if you cut it with a knife instead of a sledgehammer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Reminds me of one of those Wonka meme pics that’s been making the rounds:
    http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/400x/26642605.jpg

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    It seems that if all-female panels at tech conferences became commonplace then this would probably be a sign that the “pledge” rule is no longer useful and can be discarded.

    But I don’t think that’s going to happen, so…

  • Becca Stareyes

    I’ve heard of a few male SF authors doing that as well; basically if you want them to do panels at cons, you need to make sure your panels have at least some female authors/artists.  (They may even have suggestions of women to contact.) 

  • Cathy W

    …and our esteemed host might be able to help in that regard – surely in a list of 1134 women Christian bloggers there’s at least a handful who are a) the particular flavor of Christian any given conference organizer is looking for, and b) willing to participate on panels.

    (Solves the semi-related problem where the same three women end up featured at every conference because they’re the first three names that come to mind to be The Woman On That Panel…)

  • Carstonio

     I thought of Fred’s list as well. Among the men who set up such conferences, many of them might very well believe in the evil teaching from 1 Timothy 2. Others might simply subscribe to a more generic, arteriosclerotic variety of sexism where it doesn’t occur to them that women could be qualified for such a panel. Like the black female doctor I read about who notes that she gets the “Are you really a doctor?” look even from other blacks and other women.

  • Andrew

    Paul Cornell is the SF writer who has promoted this idea http://www.paulcornell.com/2012/02/panel-parity.html 

  • rrhersh

    Hmm…  The one conference I attend every year is on 19th century baseball history.  It is a pretty niche interest, and there is a regular group of attendees.  I can think of three women in the group.  The conference includes a panel discussion.  I’m not sure if any of the women have been on it, though some have given other presentations.   I suppose we could make sure to have one of them on the panel each year, but we all have sub-interests, and theirs would be unlikely to match the panel topic every year.  And frankly, the idea smacks of tokenism.

  • Figs

    It only smacks of tokenism if you assume that there aren’t any women out there qualified to speak on the topics which previously hosted all-male panels. This is faulty, though that should go without saying.

  • rrhersh

     So this conference on 19th century baseball history should assume that at least one of those three women present are qualified to speak on any panel topic which might be selected?  It would be astonishing if at least one of any three men from the group filled that criterion.

  • LMM22

     I suppose we could make sure to have one of them on the panel each year, but we all have sub-interests, and theirs would be unlikely to match the panel topic every year.  And frankly, the idea smacks of tokenism.

    We — as in, every single genre of con that I’ve seen consider these policies — have had these kinds of conversations. While this may be true in *your* case, the vast majority of conferences have a decent number of women.

    Keep in mind, you don’t have to have an equal number of male and female speakers to get this to work. You just need to make sure a *sixth* of your panelists are female.

  • Rrhersh

     “While this may be true in *your* case,”

    My point precisely.  SF fandom was in its early days massively gender unbalanced.  In those days, shunning a fan because she was a woman would have been dickish, but so would be the response of “Hey!  A woman!  Put her on the panel!”  Those days are long past for SF fandom.  Nowadays it is perfectly reasonable to ask pointedly why a panel is entirely male.  The general principle is not that all panels should be mixed-sex.  It is that they should reflect the audience.  If the audience is mostly male, we might then ask why this is.  Though in the case of 19th century baseball history, I don’t think it should come as any great surprise.

  • LouisDoench

    Though in the case of 19th century baseball history, I don’t think it should come as any great surprise.

    Tell that to Christina Karhl… ;)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christina_Kahrl

  • LMM22

    SF fandom was in its early days massively gender unbalanced….  If the audience is mostly male, we might then ask why this is.

    I think you’ve just begged a question. SF fandom was, in its early days, massively gender unbalanced because of sexism. (Most of the early female writers wrote under pseudonyms, for example.)

    “Hey, a woman — let’s put her on a panel!” wouldn’t have been in the culture, period.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

     Only three women?  How many men attend this conference?  Maybe a bigger question would be why such a small percentage of the attendees are women in the first place?  (As niche a topic as it may be, I’m inclined to believe there are more than three women in the nation who are interested in 19th century baseball history.)

  • rrhersh

     “Only three women?  How many men attend this conference?”

    It fills a smallish auditorium:  perhaps about fifty?  (If you have been to the Baseball Hall of Fame, it is in the auditorium behind the room with the plaques, next to the book shop and research library.)  I don’t swear by that number of three, but it is a pretty tight knit group (mostly via email listserv the rest of the year) and I ran through my mind who among the regular are women.  I don’t find the small number surprising.  Baseball geeks run heavily male, and the 19th century crowd are the people the baseball geeks look askance at.

  • http://twitter.com/cdbaca Christopher Baca

    Look, I’m sorry if I offended anyone, and I already apologized for my original misreading of the OP.

    I reinforced the idea that I am FOR diversity and equality. I just think that we as HUMANS – regardless of gender, sexuality, etc. – should be careful to not simply try and vie for power one way or the other. All this talk of privilege is good, if it leads to equality. But again, the tendency for these discussions to end up saying the white, straight, male should be silent is rubbish, IMO. (I’m not saying this one is, for the record. Just that we should ALL be careful about the language we use and pushing for equality.)

  • JustoneK

    Then why would a hypothetical one be rubbish?  Why should we all be careful about the language we use?

    Are the consequences for all of us the same?

  • http://twitter.com/cdbaca Christopher Baca

    I’m not sure I understand what you’re asking. 

    If you’re implying that the consequences for females are different for males if we don’t fight for equality, I’d say sure, on the surface.

    Nonetheless, not fighting for total equality (and not the push for one side, be that non-white, non-male, or non-straight) affects us all, regardless of our particular identities.

  • Lurking

     Even if one or two women  are on a six person panel, that still leaves 4-5 dudes on the panel. Even if women are HALF!!! of the panel, that still leaves HALF the panel being dudes. Equality!

    It’s not so much as the straight white guy shout shut up, it’s that the straight white guy should stop talking all over everybody for once and let them speak instead of assuming that when the straight white guy speaks, he speaks for all.

  • http://twitter.com/cdbaca Christopher Baca

    Point taken. Like I said, I misread the original post, and mistakenly assumed the intent was to no longer have males on any kind of panels. Already issued an apology.

  • JustoneK

    You seem to also have a misunderstanding of proportion and depth.

  • http://twitter.com/cdbaca Christopher Baca

    Nice. Way to be constructive. Instead of responding with something that will help me understand your viewpoint better, you resort to insulting my intelligence. That’s a really effective way of debating.

  • JustoneK

    Taking that as an insult is another example of you being unable to see past the privilege blinders.

  • http://twitter.com/cdbaca Christopher Baca

    Calling my inability to understand proportion and depth a “privilege blinder” is nothing more than masking an insult with a political jargon to make you feel better about what you’re saying. I’m willing and open to have a discussion to help me better understand my own privilege. However, you have no idea who I am or where I come from or my individual story. We can talk about systemic privilege and oppression all day long, but until we talk to individuals about their particular stories, we cannot change the systems we’re trying to deal with. If instead you had tried to respond in a loving manner that still was meant to help me better understand your viewpoint, I would have been inclined to listen. Instead you talk about my perceived misunderstandings and “privilege blinders.”

  • JustoneK

    I am genuinely sorry you perceive my responses as unloving and as insults dressed up in “political” jargon.  But I do not have time to devote atm to a full education that you may feel owed you.

    I can’t change what you read from my responses.  All I can do is try to convey more accurately.

    I am also very genuinely sorry you see a lack of understanding as a direct insult.

  • Turcano

    You know, he only responded that way because jumping to the conclusion that a call for including women in panels would automatically result in the exclusion of men, no matter what the language used, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense outside the context of “the Shevil Fempire wants to cut off everybody’s todgers.”

  • Carstonio

    Yes. It requires the assumption that calls for including women are merely subterfuges for excluding men. Or that efforts to include women give the mythical hordes of todger-cutters the opening they seek.

  • Carstonio

    should be careful to not simply try and vie for power one way or the other

    While t hat may be true, that has nothing to do with the issue that Fred raised. It’s not about men versus women, it’s about exclusion practiced by a specific group of men.

    the tendency for these discussions to end up saying the white, straight, male should be silent

    I’m a straight white man and I’ve never encountered that “tendency” in such discussions. What I have encountered from some other straight white men is a tendency to treat their experiences as normative, to minimize or belittle the experiences of people not like themselves. Not just in discussions but in life.

    Even if some of us were indeed told to be silent, that’s only a taste of what people who aren’t straight, white or male experience all the time. So for one of us to ask for sympathy for being treated that way is very humanly offensive. It’s like someone complaining about having to buy a Chevy Aveo instead of a Cadillac Escalade when the person listening can’t even afford a car.

  • EllieMurasaki

    the tendency for these discussions to end up saying the white, straight, male should be silent

    There is a difference between ‘the heterocis white male should be silent’ and ‘the heterocis white male should not be the only type of person given a chance to speak’.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Your so-called “apology” included an insult. And now you’re whining about people telling you you’re wrong.

    I have two ideas for you:

    The first is, stop hanging out in places where white, straight males are told their voices are not wanted. It is entirely possible that your voice is not wanted for very legitimate reasons: namely, that white straight males dominate abso-friggin’-everything, and people who are not that want to be able to be heard without some overprivileged douche waltzing in and whining “what about the menz!”

    The second is, check your privilege.

    I have seen bullies use social justice as an excuse to be bullies, certainly. But if you have any measure of perspective at all, you should be able to separate those people from the herd and ignore them. Since you barged in here whining that we have to make oh so sure that people who have dominated for millennia and still dominate our culture to the exclusion of well over half the human race need their feelings taken into account in a discussion of how they still completely dominate things? I think you have not been the victim of bullies. I think you have been the victim of foot-bullets.

  • LL

    Now if we could only get Congress to do it. I didn’t think I could have more contempt for Congress until I observed the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the contraceptive coverage rule last  year. Then, suddenly, I found a deep reserve of contempt I hadn’t realized I possessed.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    My concern with the application of this to church conferences is that it might very quickly lead to panels whose members were Dr. A. St John D. Caldera, professor of theology; Mr. GV Snatori, award-winning author; Professor Bob RF Akrotiri, leading researcher in God-Studies; Mr. LD Ia, pulitzer-winning columnist; and Mrs. R Fredson, homemaker and certified person-with-uterus.

  • stardreamer42

    I’m rather surprised it took this long for the “unqualified women chosen only to fill a quota” argument to appear; usually it shows up in the first 3 responses. Do you realize that what you’re actually saying is that there ARE no women qualified to be on such panels, or at the very least that there will never be any women qualified “enough”?

    Are there no women who teach theology, no women writing about religion, no women doing work in “God-Studies” (whatever the hell that is), no women writing religious columns? (The last of those, of course, is trivially disprovable given Fred’s list of female Christian bloggers.) Or is it just that they are automatically “less qualified” than even the most mediocre of men doing the same work?

    So you might get a woman on a panel who is (by your criteria) less qualified than a man. Do you think every single panel at every conference ever has only the half-dozen most-qualified  men on it? Isn’t it just as bad for a more-qualified man to be passed over in favor of one who is, perhaps, more available or less expensive? Why is it so much worse to think about a woman being chosen instead?

    Indeed, why do you dismiss the possibility that there are women MORE qualified than some of the men on those panels, who are being passed over precisely because they don’t have the Magic Dongle?

    I am goddamn sick and tired of people trotting out the same old bigoted arguments against women that were used to keep black men out of positions of authority for so long. Your “concern” is PART OF THE PROBLEM, and trolling.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Yes. That is exactly what I was saying and not at all that the same damned patriarchs who dismiss Rachel Held Evans as “post-evangelical” will just pad their panels with carefully vetted prarie muffins (While the literally thousands of qualified women remain uninvited) and then look shocked, SHOCKED that you’d DARE claim they’re a bunch of mysoginistic pricks, given that, look: We’ve got wimmins right there fore all to see. And even THEY agree that a woman’s place is in the kitchen making the proper church leaders sammiches.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    So what if they fill their panels with women with whom I disagree. At least there will be women on the panels. A woman is not required to have a certain level of feminist cred in order to be someone worth listening to. Nor does she have to have a degree. Nor is there anything wrong with her being a homemaker, nor does someone with a bunch of letters after his name necessarily have anything better to say about how to run an organization than someone who has experience living with the consequences of that organization…

    You are making a ton of sexist assumptions, supposedly in the name of feminism, and I do not appreciate it.

  • Münchner Kindl

     Actually, as a half-feminist, I detest calling any woman in a strong position a bonus for feminists/ women. Thatcher and Angie are pushing policies harmful to women and the feminist cause. The consies and fundies have enough brainwashed women who simply repeat the male party line of dominance, housemakers, complementarianism etc.

    Fred has often criticzed Bev La Haye and her “Women against America” push which harms other women.

    This is about getting different viewpoints, not getting people with XX instead of XY saying the same thing as before.

  • Carstonio

    Huh? I thought Ross was attacking the “unqualified” argument, not endorsing it. The scenario Ross offers is about panel organizers treating diversity as an onerous requirement, picking a woman almost at random in an attempt to pacify their critics. From my reading, the message wasn’t that few or no women were qualified for such a panel, but that organizers don’t want such women there.

    And why would the organizers avoid stocking their panels with qualified women? My working theory is that they’re afraid that someone like Rachel Held Evans on the dais would directly challenge what they see as their natural authority, but I defer to any answers Fred would suggest.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I came to the same conclusion:  that what Ross was saying wasn’t, “They’ll just invite random women to fill a quota, so what’s the use of inclusivity” but rather, “Some of these guys will go out of their way to refuse to invite qualified women, instead choosing the ‘tee hee, I’m just a housewife’ types”.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Some of these guys will go out of their way to refuse to invite qualified women, instead choosing the ‘tee hee, I’m just a housewife’ types

    You know, for all the stereotyping of this supposed type of woman, I have never in my life known a housewife who was a “tee hee, I’m just a” type of person. Frankly I do not believe they exist. Even if there is an occasional woman like this, perpetuating this stereotype is hurtful and yet another example of us doing the patriarchy’s work of dividing and conquering for them. 

    By the way? I’m a housewife, technically speaking. Except I can’t actually do the *work* being a homemaker entails yet. I hope to be able to within the year.

  • Carstonio

    I have never in my life known a housewife who was a “tee hee, I’m just a” type of person.

    Me neither. I had read the term as referring to the type of anti-feminist who pretends to be the “just a housewife” person, like Phyllis Schlafey and Beverly LaHaye. While I disagree with anti-feminists on just about everything, the evangelical ones still have a right to serve on an event panel. My problem would be with organizers who would deliberately exclude any women but the anti-feminists, in an attempt to stifle dissent. My guess is that such organizers do this already with the male panelists, where someone like Fred wouldn’t be invited, but I don’t know this.

  • Münchner Kindl

     You never heard of Bev La Haye?

    You never read the many blogs Fred linked to where ex-Fundie women talk about how they fully believed and embraced the “Stay at home, submit to the husband, don’t learn or think for yourself” doctrine?

    There’s a big difference between an educated, emancipated woman in a real partnership deciding to stay home and raise the child, or do 50% of the housework (or stay unemployed and do 100%) and a woman who was brainwashed to believe that all she is qualified to do is housework and child-rearing, who didn’t get a higher education, who is not allowed to think or decide for herself, and who is in a “complementarian” = male-dominated relationship.

    If you belong to the former, that doesn’t mean the latter doesn’t exist.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I think the “I’m just a housewife” thing is a political pose adopted by some anti-feminist women.  I don’t believe it’s a reflection on actual housewives, many of whom I know are feminist.

    Or, what Carstonio said.

  • http://twitter.com/KeroseneBitumen Christina Nordlander

    I was just about to post something along these lines, stardreamer 42, except you probably said it better.

    It’s distressing how any discussion about increasing female (minority, etc.) participation in some field seems to assume that the women (immigrants, queer people, etc.) will just be amateurs picked straight off the street, whereas the straight white men will of course be the leading minds of their field.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    Wow, you read Ross’s comment completely differently to the way I did. I don’t think he was saying that at all. He was talking about the possibility of conference organisers deliberately playing the rules, obeying the letter of this suggestion while disregarding its spirit.

    TRiG.

  • Münchner Kindl

     In that case, it is the duty of those men who took the pledge to talk to the organizers again: why didn’t you invite Mrs. Smith from (Fred’s list) who’s more qualified than Mrs. Fredson?

    The success of this pledge largely depens on speaking out loud: the panelists and the attendees talking to the organizers and the media and other panelists/ attendes on why they aren’t coming and how to change that. With less and less interesting/ known panelists coming, attendance and interest will drop, so organizers will either change or the meeting will become unimportant as most people go to conference B instead with the big-name panelists and mixed representation.

    It reminds me of how the Green Party here adressed gender imbalance and the power plays about who gets what place on the list for the election. They put down the rule that  a man and a woman must alternate on that list. No exceptions. If you don’t have enough women, you don’t fill up with men, you stop. If you have only  unqualified women who are not being elected, well, your bad luck. This puts an incentive on local party groups to go out and recruit women, and put electable = capable women at the front of the list; and it means that women know they won’t play second fiddle, but have a chance as long as they are capable.

  • Madhabmatics

     Yeah, this. I can’t imagine a dude who is canny enough to take this pledge and not canny enough to know specific qualified women in his field that he can push to have panels. (“I’m not coming unless you invite Gretchen, we both know she’s doing cutting edge work.”)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    In that case, it is the duty of those men who took the pledge to talk to the organizers again: why didn’t you invite Mrs. Smith from (Fred’s list) who’s more qualified than Mrs. Fredson?

    Yes, that’s exactly what will help. Have this group of men make the determination of what makes a woman worthy to speak rather than that group. That’ll fix it.

  • Münchner Kindl

     So do you have any constructive alternative or are just complaining as usual?

  • Si

     Wow. That is breathtaking. I’m not sure whether to be more impressed with your “concern” that there are just not enough qualified women in the field, or your barely-veiled condescension toward female nonprofessionals. Why didn’t you say “Ms. R Fredson, plumber and certified person with a uterus”? I suppose that would have made your point, but without the opportunity to sneer at homemakers.

  • Si

     I withdraw my comment because I misunderstood what Ross was saying.

  • Marta L.

    In my academic discipline (philosophy), some academics tried to organize something along these lines after realizing there were a real dearth of female speakers at our events, and female journals in articles. While I appreciate the idea, it made me uncomfortable because it’s entirely too easy to slip into getting a token woman. And speaking as a female grad student that hopes to soon enter the professoriate, when I get a journal article accepted or am invited to speak at a conference, I want this to be because I’ve said something worth listening to. Not because I lack a Y chromosome.

    I think women’s voices (to say nothing of non-white voices, non-heterosexual voices, non-professional theologian voices, etc.) are crucial to the kinds of conversations we want to have. But I wonder whether pledges like this are the best way to go. It’s better, I think, to ask the organizers whether they have considered inviting specific people, and if you notice a trend of only going to white men, then avoid conferences or whatever avoided by that group. But this approach of if there aren’t any women on this particular panel you don’t appear either? I don’t want to be made into a tool to prove the panel is inclusive, and I suspect the audience will miss hearing some good voices that care about these things as well.

  • http://rightcrafttool.blogspot.com/ Sign Ahead

    Fortunately, neither of the two areas mentioned in Fred’s post (Tech and Theology) have that problem. Both of them have plenty of intelligent women with very interesting things to say. They aren’t just tokens. The pledge is a useful way to encourage event organizers to seek them out.

    I suspect that most disciplines are in the same situation. I’m a graduate student too, and last year I helped organize a couple of product design and entrepreneurship panel discussions. Both times, the list of potential speakers started out very male and very white. But once we saw that and took steps to correct it, we found plenty of outstanding women and people of color. In fact, we could have filled several additional panels with all of the people we discovered. We just had to acknowledge our biases and look beyond them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.jamison.9212 Scott Jamison

    It may be worthwhile finding out what specific 19th Century baseball knowledge the three (or so) women who regularly attend the conference have and see if one of them might match the topic of a panel.  It might take two-three years to get the right combination, but the effort would be worth it.

    With regard to religious conferences, there are a few esoteric subjects where there may only be five people in the world qualified for a panel, all of whom are men.  But there are a lot of subjects where this isn’t the case and a qualified woman could be found if the conference organizers shift themselves to look.

    And if you (general you) are the kind of person who gets invited to speak at these conferences, it would be nice if you made a list of your female and/or minority colleagues who are also qualified and you get along with  just in case the organizers need suggestions.

  • banancat

    And of course, Christopher Baca decided to dominate this thread while complaining about his paranoia of others silencing him.  Wow, what an obliviously privileged tool.  Only someone in the most dominant and powerful group could complain about silencing while demanding that an entire thread revolve around him.

  • http://twitter.com/wjloewen William Loewen

    Besides hearing women talk because they are women, we also need to hear men talk about how awesome women are.  I would rather pledge that if I’m addressing a crowd that is predisposed to suppressing the female voice, I will uphold the women in my life, my copanelists’ lives and the audience’s lives as valuable, talented and inspiring aspects of God’s creation.

    Already the split is fairly unavoidable: conservative women won’t speak and won’t be asked, liberal women will speak when asked but are often ignored, conservative men will speak proudly and loudly, and now liberal men are being asked not to speak.  That means only one voice will be heard.

  • AnonymousSam

    The problem is, it’s the panelists who are refusing to allow the women to speak, not the audience. So appearing on that panel to talk about how awesome women are somewhat becomes hypocritical, if one does not insist that women should be on said panel. Refusing to attend the panels if they are male-dominated is simply another means of insisting that womens’ rights be observed.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    Already the split is fairly unavoidable: conservative women won’t speak
    and won’t be asked, liberal women will speak when asked but are often
    ignored, conservative men will speak proudly and loudly, and now liberal
    men are being asked not to speak.  That means only one voice will be
    heard.

    I wondered if the more constructive approach wouldn’t be for the panelists, instead of declining to attend, contacted a qualified woman instead and let her have his seat?

  • Mike H.

    Why limit to gender inclusive concerns? Randy Woodley has addressed this as an indigenous minority. There was quite a discussion about refusing to be a part of any conference or forum that contained only white males. Part of the thread can be accessed here:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/emergentvillage/2012/09/can-you-feel-me-yes-somone-did-by-randy-woodley/
    There are a lot of links that can be poked at to get the whole gist of his concern. A concern that should be ours, also.

  • Carstonio

    I share the concerns over both ethnic inclusiveness and gender inclusiveness as a matter of principle, even though I”m not religious and have no organizational stake in the matter. So why is Fred focusing on gender? Perhaps he seeks to emphasize the link between the lack of female representation and the advocacy of political and doctrinal positions that hurt women.

  • Münchner Kindl

     Maybe because women are shut out in fundie /evangelical theology (often with that one verse “I suffer not a woman to preach” and the whole complementarian nonsense), while blacks are not interested in the white-oriented evangelical culture anyway, but have their own parallel churches to express themselves?

  • LMM22

    So why is Fred focusing on gender?

    Maybe because 50% of the population is female, while many religious denominations are *heavily* segregated?

    Maybe because Oppression Olympics leads to nothing getting done ever?

  • Carstonio

    I didn’t ask the question to criticize Fred for not focusing on other types of diversity. It was a rhetorical question to highlight the theme that he has been using over the past month or so. Münchner is right that the gender diversity has much to do with a specific theology, which is very likely part of Fred’s point.

    I loved how Fred listed tons of female evangelical bloggers when some of his colleagues insisted that they didn’t know of such writers. If there was a similar claim about the alleged lack of non-white evangelical bloggers, Fred would probably use the same refutation.

  • Münchner Kindl

     You mean, the Mosaic list (rightmost tab) that Fred made after starting the Bonfire (Women) and Quiltbag list? Because he wanted to hear more voices with different experiences and viewpoints?

  • Carstonio

     Yes. Thanks for reminding me.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Also maybe because I haven’t heard any big religious arguments (and this is a religious blog) say we should deny black men health care on the basis of their gender? Or that non-white men exist in order to reproduce, and anything they do in the way of that should be made illegal? Or that non-white men must live in a household in which they are required to offer their bodies to another person within that household, even unto it endangering their lives?

  • LL

    What do church conferences talk about, anyway?

    And (sure, I’ll go ahead and throw gas on the fire) unlike the “tech” industry, where the people who work in it are primarily male (most mechanical engineers are male, most IT people are male) and it’s somewhat understandable (though not justifiable) for them to think that there are no women in “tech” jobs worth putting on a “panel,” the gender ratio in most religious denominations is nearly 50/50. I’m guessing in some age groups, it is more female than male. 

    So to not include the input of women in discussions of religious issues is not an oversight, but a deliberate effort to keep women out. 

    This seems pretty obvious to me. These panels don’t include women because the opinion of women is either not considered important, or is considered so similar to that of men that the inclusion of women would be redundant. Or both. Probably both. 

    Do they not feel at least silly discussing matters that obviously concern women (like marriage or sex) while not including any women? Or is this just SOP in these things? Are they so fucked up they don’t realize how fucked up they are?

  • Carstonio

    These panels don’t include women because the opinion of women is either
    not considered important, or is considered so similar to that of men
    that the inclusion of women would be redundant.

    Or because the women would be very likely to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy, particularly on gender roles. As an analogy, the GOP had many choices for a female VP nominee in 2008, but the well-known ones were all moderates and pro-choicers.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    Coleslaw had an interesting  post on this topic recently.

    She mentions two Christian conferences organised by the same group, one for women and one for men. At the women’s conference,

    Past speakers at the conferences have included Sarah Palin, Pam Tebow
    (Christian missionary and mother to Tim Tebow, although past video
    trailers simply refer to her as “mother to Tim Tebow”), and Kay Warren
    (“wife to Rick Warren”). Men appear on the podium as entertainers and
    worship leaders.

    And at the men’s conference,

    Speakers include Dan Cathy, Josh McDowell, and Tim Tebow. There are no
    women speakers or worship leaders, at least in this year’s conference
    and the conferences going back to 2010, which is as far back as I could
    find.

    So, yeah.

    TRiG.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    Discus, your formatting of blockquotes sucks.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    And (sure, I’ll go ahead and throw gas on the fire) unlike the “tech”
    industry, where the people who work in it are primarily male (most
    mechanical engineers are male, most IT people are male) and it’s
    somewhat understandable (though not justifiable) for them to think that
    there are no women in “tech” jobs worth putting on a “panel,” the gender
    ratio in most religious denominations is nearly 50/50. I’m guessing in
    some age groups, it is more female than male.

    I can’t speak to the mechanical engineers, but I work for a company with an IT department that’s at least 40 people strong.  The gender divide is pretty close to half and half.  Admittedly that’s anecdotal, but I’d suspect that, depending on where you look, the old, “IT people are mostly male,” saw is thrown around by people who are in places where keeping IT people male is considered a good thing.

    I’d want to see more statistics and breakdowns, rather than anecdotes and, “We all know this is the case, right?”

  • banancat

     I’m a chemical engineer and I’ve had a similar experience.  “Everyone knows” that engineering is a sausage-fest.  Chemical engineering has the most women, but still very male dominated.  And even in my short career so far, I’ve worked in many industry where I was the only woman or one of only two women.  This was the case in the building products industry, the defense industry, and the analytical instrumentation industry.  I suspect it is that way in the oil industry too, even though I’ve never worked there.  But now I’m in the pharmaceutical industry and it’s pretty much 50/50 at this company, or at least in the ~100 or so engineers/scientists I work with regularly (it’s a gigantic company).  It seems that women tend to get concentrated at the companies/industries that make an effort to not discriminate, and that effect is self-perpetuating.

    I had two tangential thoughts while writing this.  First, it’s interesting that the type of engineering with the most women is also one of the highest-paid.  I don’t know if there’s anything behind that correlation.

    Second, of course there is one guy where I work who views the world through the Smurfette principle.  He “jokingly” complains that women get tons of breaks and they discriminate against men and refuse to hire them.  It’s odd because he was hired, and also because if would just count the people in the department he would see that men still slightly outnumber women.  But having more than a few token women seems like we’re dominating because he’s just so unused to seeing equality.

  • P J Evans

    I worked at a company that was about 50% female,all the way to the top (the CEO is female). Every so often you run into a guy who doesn’t get it, that women are engineers and planners and field crew leaders. (Story about field crew: A woman I worked with had been a crew leader, and said they made fun of her using hand lotion, but then they tried it and found that it made their hands feel better.)

  • MaryKaye

    An interesting game you can play with yourself:  when you are in a crowd of people of both genders, estimate what proportion are women, and then count them.

    I believe studies have shown that most people will identify a 50/50 group, or even a somewhat male-biased group, as “majority women.”  I tried this with subway cars in CA many years ago and found to my surprise that I did.

    There are not enough black people in Seattle to do a good test of this, at least not in parts of the city I often have occasion to visit, but I should try it with Asian people.  My undergrad classes tend to look like they’re half Asian–I wonder if this is true?  (I counted the last one for gender and found to my surprise that not only did it look quite female-dominated, it actually was.)

  • Turcano

    At least when it comes to housing, Brad Hicks puts the “majority black” ratio at around 5%.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    That’s interesting research; I’ll have to try it out.

    I work in an organisation whose staff are 2/3 female (we’re in the broad science field). When I first started working there, almost everyone in senior management was male. Over the next few years most of them retired and the profile changed so that senior management was about half male, with a female CEO.

    Several men “jokingly” observed that we had become a femocracy–even though senior management is still disproportionately male compared to the rest of the organisation (which has a gender profile that reflects the national graduate profile in our subject area, so we’re not engaged in discriminatory hiring practices).

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    I work in an organisation whose staff are 2/3 female (we’re in the broad science field).

    In an organization with that many women, I’d have thought they’d have told you that it’s not really appropriate to call it “broad science”. I think the preferred term these days is “science for dames”

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Nope. Majority of science degree graduates are women, and it’s been that way for over a decade now.

  • http://twitter.com/cdbaca Christopher Baca

    Not that many of my original responders are reading this comment thread anymore, but I would like to apologize for my few posts a couple of days ago. I said some things out of both anger and simple misunderstanding of the issue at hand. (And, not that this is an excuse, but I have been quite sick for the past week, which doesn’t necessarily lend itself to cohesive thoughts and/or writing.)

    I absolutely do NOT stand by what I originally wrote. I honestly think I was not thinking clearly, and I have heard the critiques of my fellow commenters and have allowed those critiques to change my thinking on this particular subject. I agree with Fred Clark’s initial post,  and appreciate the pushback I received. I support full equality of women and men, and I think that any efforts that can be made on all sides to support full equality should be taken.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     For what it’s worth, I read your original comment and read this one, and appreciate you taking the time to follow up. I’m sorry you were sick, and hope you’re feeling better now.


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