Peter Schott wrote:
The idea of faking speakers - that's just ridiculous. That's so easy to check these days and so easy to be caught. Why bother doing something like that?
But the responses are also over the top. I don't care about the "diversity" of someone speaking at a tech conference. I want someone who knows what they're talking about and can present that well. There are some brilliant women in tech and I'll listen to them just as much as the brilliant men. But I'm not going to choose a session based on gender of speaker. I'll look at the topic and the speaker's stated experience and then decide. It's sad that you have top level speakers who decline to speak because of the roster not being "diverse" enough. Either you want to speak or you don't. As others have noted, sometimes you just can't _get_ certain speakers or people have to back out for personal or professional reasons. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I don't want a speaker chosen for diversity, I want one chosen for expertise and communication skills.
Easy to say that, but part of what helps us find more talented people is getting more people to come speak. That includes diverse speakers, because frankly different people have different ideas and bring different views. I think that's a good thing for the industry as do many others.
I, and other speakers, have seen organizers get lazy or be prejudiced and only people white males. Sometimes they might be the best, sometimes not, but without making an effort, we don't easily grow our pool of top level people.
Very few choices are made because of someone just being diverse. I'd counter those few with the fact that some white men are chosen who aren't good speakers, but they are friends of an organizers or they happened to apply.
You can feel the responses are over the top. That's certainly a valid way to feel. I don't feel that way, and I might have cancelled if I were scheduled. Not that I would have, but maybe. Likely, since this is faking diversity, not being unable to find it.
I do help run events, and I do know sometimes it's hard to get a diverse lineup. I've been inside the submissions and I've tried to help people reach out and find more diverse speakers that are qualified, but that takes work, not just expecting it to happen. Things like this fake speakers, or even comments about "only picked because of gender" turn off potential great speakers, who don't submit because they don't want to get viewed that way.