Conrunners React to Cornell Initiative

Paul Cornell and Si Spurrier have called for a 50/50 male/female balance on all convention programs.

I am terribly prone to complacency, therefore, regardless of my initial skeptical reaction to the implied criticism, I think anybody who puts himself out there trying to raise the bar for con runners is doing me a service just by making me think about why I do things the way I do.

Although I don’t believe in being ruled by a canned number, I do believe in getting more women on programming. I was willing to ask — how well am I really doing? (See “Program Participation as Civil Disobedience”.)

Next, I wanted to know how other convention program organizers feel about Cornell’s initiative. Will it make any difference? Should it? How practical is it? I reached out to a dozen experienced conrunners (plus fandom’s best-known program reporter) with these questions:

  • What is your approach is to gender parity on panel programs?
  • Do you think Cornell’s initiative will change or has already changed your approach?
  • Do you have any comments on Paul Cornell’s and Si Spurrier’s actions?

Responses came back from Emily Coombs, Janice Gelb, Evelyn Leeper, Jim Mann, Craig Miller, Priscilla Olson, Arlene Satin and two fans preferring to remain unnamed. Most of their comments were so deeply thoughtful I decided to run them in full. That makes for a long post, of course, so I have placed their views after the jump.

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Why Spock Can’t Grok showed up as a result while I was running searches with Google. I decided to find out what the site had going for it besides the eye-catching domain name.

It’s a new people search engine. Making the obvious test, I typed in my own name. came up with a hit, with great confidence displaying a picture of “Mike Glyer” beside the text — who to my surprise appeared to be the identical twin of George R. R. Martin, right down to the green Archon 25 badge that read “George R. R. Martin.”

Now I was even more curious. I put in “Ben Yalow.” found him too, sort of: with his entry was a photo of Priscilla Olson. Things were getting worse: at least George and I both have beards.

Still, mistakes happen. So the third time, I gave every chance to succeed and typed in the name of the most famous fan I know, “Forrest J Ackerman.” Eureka! This time the image returned with the text was Forry, surrounded by his collection.

Why didn’t this seem to be working for us lesser mortals? I went back to re-run the “Ben Yalow” search, looking for clues. If nothing else, I intended to read the silly motto on Priscilla’s pullover and mention it in this article. But, no.  Now, next to Ben’s name was the picture of a toothbrush.

I can see why they call this beta software.