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From Paul Cornell's website



"Okay, so this was something I came up with yesterday, and it's mad, and is, frankly, a rod for my own back, but what the hell, it's going to make this coming year a lot more interesting.

I think there should be gender parity on every panel at every convention. I'm after 50/50, all the time. I want that in place as an expectation, as a rule. Now, to make that happen, what really should be done is a ground-up examination of society, huge changes at the heart of things which would automatically lead to women being equally represented everywhere, not just on convention panels. Well, we've all wanted that and worked for that for decades, especially those of us in fandom, and it just hasn't happened. So, this year, I've decided that I'm going to approach this problem via the only moral unit I'm in charge of: me. I'm going to approach this problem from the other end. And this approach is going to be very much that of a blunt instrument.

If I'm on, at any convention this year, a panel that doesn't have a 50/50 gender split (I'll settle for two out of five), I'll hop off that panel, and find a woman to take my place.
"

There's more text at the website, but I'm impressed by his initiative.

So, thoughts people? :)


For legality, the cover to Demon Knights 7 by Mike Choi, which includes a rather impressive outfit for the Questing Queen, a little action-figure-y perhaps, but given my Saint Seiya tastes, that's not really a problem for me! :)


Date: 2012-02-20 01:18 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] donnblake
You're right, and that was poorly worded on my part. But I still think that the overriding concern should be who is most qualified to speak on any given panel.

Yes, right now the comic-book industry is male dominated which means that many panels will probably have more qualified men than women (put 25 of Group A into a room with one of Group B and there's a decent chance than one of the Group Aers will have as much or more experience than the Group Ber in any given field), and yes it's a problem that the industry is male dominated, but I don't see how establishing quotas at conventions is supposed to fix that.

Date: 2012-02-20 01:34 am (UTC)
valtyr: (Chicken)
From: [personal profile] valtyr
It depends on how you decide 'most qualified', doesn't it? Numerous factors come into play when choosing panellists - in-depth knowledge of the topic, direct experience of the topic, current relation to the topic (ie are you currently working on it), availability, whether the con can afford to get you there, does the panellist bring a new or original perspective to the topic, are they a skilled debater, are they funny, do they ask penetrating questions, can they chair a panel effectively. You seem to be assuming first that it's easy to rank people in order of their qualification, and second that the makeup of panels purely reflects the makeup of the industry.

To digress slightly, many orchestras now do blind auditions - those auditioning do not speak, they enter, play and leave concealed from the panel judging them. Orchestras that do this rapidly start selecting on a more gender-equal basis, when previously they disproportionately selected men. Was this deliberate? Well, probably not, or they wouldn't have gone to the effort of introducing blind auditioning in the first place. More likely, they had subconscious bias that led them to prefer men's playing. And it's entirely possible this kind of bias comes into play when selecting panellists. A gender quota is one way of overcoming this subconscious bias.

How will it help? Well, the visible involvement of women can interest other women and encourage participation, for starters. They can also get men accustomed to seeing women involved. Getting the 'oh God! a girl!' reaction can be very off-putting. Being on panels is also a way to meet and talk to industry professionals, and get your viewpoint out to a wider audience. The industry is sorely lacking in female perspectives.

Date: 2012-02-20 01:42 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] donnblake
You're raising a lot of points I hadn't considered, and I'll concede that Cornell's suggested rule is worth trying. Let me ask a question though- if we hypothesize a world where gender inequality doesn't play a role in the comic book industry (note: I am NOT, repeat NOT claiming that that world currently exists) would the rule still be worthwhile?

Date: 2012-02-20 01:46 am (UTC)
valtyr: (medusa oils)
From: [personal profile] valtyr
No, I don't think the rule would be worthwhile in that case. In a world with true gender equality, panels would sometimes be all or majority male, but they would also sometimes be all or majority female. In a truly gender equality world, there would be significantly less - perhaps nothing - for which a female perspective would be more useful than a male perspective, and vice versa.

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