This post started as my comment to Greg Wilson’s post. Greg posted a link to O’Reilly’s call for diversity. I think that the very concept of increasing diversity artificially is flawed. Here’s the comment I made in Greg’s blog:
Greg, as a woman who’s been in IT for about 20 years I must say that the “improving diversity” thing looks like BS to me and insults the very people whom it is supposed to help. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Here’s my train of reasoning. Either someone deserves to be a speaker at a conference (by the pure merit of their research and speaking skills), or they don’t. If they do, then invite them because they are worth it, not because they are minorities. On the other hand, if they don’t deserve it but still get invited, this implies the poor things can’t do better anyway, so let’s condescend to them.
Moreover, if e.g. a woman got to be a speaker, there will always be suspicion that she got in by being a minority and not because of her actual achievements. All in all, it seems to me that this policy does more harm than good.
Personally I’d rather have a honest and truthful judgment than condescending attitude. It was not condescending and sweet meaningless compliments that helped me or any of these women to get where we are today. As Lois M. Bujold puts it very aptly in one of her books,”…if you desire a man to tell you comfortable lies about your prowess, and so fetter any hope of true excellence, I’m sure you may find one anywhere. Not all prisons are made of iron bars. Some are made of feather beds. Royesse.“