Dave's spouting some sexist drivel on his site today, which I'd point you to but he's removed most of it. There was nice crock of shit about men being better suited to programming than women and several other comments that riled my blood. All that remains is an important observation regarding the percentage of women in attendance at tech conferences, which is always so out of wack. And it's something that really irritates me, not only the lack of women, but especially the lack of female speakers at most events.
Dave's suggestion is to pair conferences ("A librarian conference at the same facility as a developer conference. They'd get better software and we'd get more users and kinder feedback?" [Kinder feedback? Is that because women are so sweet and nice?]) so there'd be more "female energy." But that doesn't address the root of the problem: the imbalance of women and men in the tech industry. We need more role models to inspire the next generation of women. More women in senior positions, and in influential speaking and leadership roles, is an important step to increasing the numbers of women in the industry.
In the next two months I'll be speaking at three conferences: O'Reilly's Peer-to-Peer and Web Services Conference, Seybold SF, and Wizards-of-OS: Operating Systems and Social Systems and I can't wait. Back in February I looked at the photos posted online of the first P2P conference and I observed the majority of folks speaking and attending were male, and that bothered me. I realized I could whine and moan about the lack of female participation at these events, or I could do something about it, so I made a decision: I would try to speak at more conferences to rectify that imbalance. I'd demonstrate that there are women starting companies and building products and doing programming as well as men. Three conferences isn't much, but it's a start. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.