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By Steve Jones,

I'm stunned, and I'm not releasing many details here. Not because I condone this, but because the who did this isn't nearly as important as the message and the behavior. I didn't press for more details when I heard about it and I'm not interested in learning specifics.

A user group leader responded to an inquiry with: "We don't want female speakers. Our users only want to hear technical content."

First, what the <insert your own expression here>? Second, seriously? Third, WTF? I'm actually stunned that in 2013 we have someone that doesn't believe that female speakers can deliver technical content. 

We will never eradicate prejudice and bigotry from the world. As humans, we all have our own beliefs, likes, dislikes, and our prejudices. We form impressions of people, either before we meet them, when we meet them or over time. We also form impressions of groups and events. Those impressions influence how we view the world and interact with others. Some of us change our minds over time while some of us cling stubbornly to our stances. There will always be some friction in our dealings with others, depending on how we view the person.

When I see quotes like this, I know we need groups like the Women in Technology that advocate for more participation and fair treatment of their members. I had someone express concern a few years ago that this type of group might fragment our SQL Server community. What happens if we have Black Men in Technology, or Chinese Women in Technology, or any other subset of our members. I think that would be great. I think it is necessary whenever we have a group of people that struggle with their place in the the community. Organizations can help their members to improve their own skills at handling situations or gaining more recognition. The groups can advocate for individuals and improve the way their members work within the larger community.

I firmly believe that we are all better off when we have a diverse community, with all types of people, a variety of thoughts, ideas, opinions, and most importantly, teachers. It takes some effort from all groups to consider and incorporate that diversity into our user groups, conferences, and other events. There are so many talented, technical people around. I'd encourage organizers and attendees to choose and watch a wide variety of speakers. Take a chance on someone that you might not normally consider. You never know when the person you prejudge will surprise you in the end.

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Steve Jones