James Bacon: 2013 Eastercon Adopts
Gender Parity Policy

By James Bacon: 8squared, the 2013 Eastercon Bid, announced they would be going for panel [gender] parity. Simon Bradshaw in charge of programme also advocated avoiding having all/majority moderators being male while achieving this. 

Meanwhile Satellite, the 2014 Eastercon bid, said they would prefer to follow what they normally do, so if four  women are the best speakers they’d be on the panel. After reviewing previous Satellites (local cons) they did well previously. When pressed they said they would not follow panel [gender] parity and one committee member subsequently said they want the best participants regardless of gender. This seemed a popular approach, but passions ran high at this stage from those who see that attitude as failing to enable gender parity. 

Both conventions were voted in. 

The question of  Panel Parity appears alive. One national con, here in the U.K., has embraced it.

8 thoughts on “James Bacon: 2013 Eastercon Adopts
Gender Parity Policy

  1. This doesn’t address the root of the problem, to wit, “how do we ensure gender parity in convention *membership?*” I suggest that fans be allowed to buy memberships in an alternating fashion. One male, one female. If a guy has bought a membership, then no more can be sold until a woman buys one, etc. That might be a little impractical, though, so perhaps a rough guess can be made to how many might attend the con altogether, and then earmark exactly half that many to men and half to women. When 257 “male” memberships are sold, tough luck Charlie. Go home and try again next year. Hopefully the concom’s guestimated membership won’t be too off the mark, or they might turn away 100 or so guys wanting memberships and not pick up the necessary complementary number of females. There remains the thorny problem of whether there *are* equal numbers of each gender in fandom, but a few years of turning away guys at the registration desk ought to whittle down their numbers to pairty…

    Yeah… I know. Some readers Are Not Going To Find This Funny!

  2. @Michael Walsh: I doubt it. No matter that “gender” can mean something more, it’s only a male/female balance that Cornell is campaigning for. Most people present themselves as one or the other whatever their preferences may be.

  3. “Most people present themselves as one or the other whatever their preferences may be.”

    This assumes the people doing programming have either met or have actual knowledge of the program participant. And if the only contact with a participant has been via email and the like … then you might end up being surprised when you open the hotel room door and discover a 21st century Lee Hoffman on the other side.

    Not than fans would take advantage of such ambiguous situations. Or go out of their way to do something silly … just ask Joan W. Carr.

  4. True,we must never underestimate fans’ capacity for willul blindness. Nor can conrunners necessarily be expected to see thru intentional ambiguity like Hoffman’s. However, with Facebook and internet book marketing it should be easy to find out how most pros style themselves.

  5. I’ve been struggling with this ever sine I saw the item posted. I want o desperately to support this, but I’m finding it impossible. The proposal arises from a prima facie assumption that gender equity on convention programs is both significant and desirable. Having been raised in the most feminist science fiction club in America, and having worked through every possible permutation of the separatist/inclusionist paradigm in the 1980s, I can’t say I find either point very plausible. Making decisions based on gender distinctions is an unwelcome intrusion by mundane society into fandom. Why can’t you leave your dimorphial prejudice at the door?

  6. @Andy: When I go back to the source — especially Si Spurrier — the logic seems to be that making female pros in the comics field more visible at cons will encourage or compel ediors and publishers to create a more equitable marketplace.

    In the North American sf/f market, nobody would look to cons to do that work. Women have waged those struggles in the market itself by building up followings for their writing, and by using professional organizations to network.

  7. Last year I volunteered for a fanzine panel at a convention and I was turned down. Bruce stated in a thread in the Fan-Eds group on Facebook that it was his decision who to include, so he chose himself and one other MALE fanzine creator for this panel. This panel was scheduled to run for an hour but finished early, with Bruce apologising to the audience for the early finish (at least 20 minutes early).

    Bruce was aware that I am a woman. He also takes issue with the fact that Dark Matter is an electronic fanzine, and yet a number of people wanted my input into this panel. The reason I volunteered to sit on any panels at all was because I had received a number of emails suggesting or even strongly recommending that I volunteer for this particular panel. People asked questions about electronic publication and selection for the National Library Archives, some of which were fielded to me.

    Was my exclusion appropriate?

    I volunteered for one other panel, Mind/perception, where a full panel (4 people including the moderator) had a lively discussion, engaging the audience with questions and comments adding to the debate. My public speaking training and experience was evident as was my familiarity with the topic, built on a foundation of years of study (Master of Social Science) and my familiarity with a range of SFF books and movies. The room was crowded. Audience members came up afterwards, thanking us for our discussion.

    Was my inclusion in this panel appropriate?

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