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Mother of Invention?

You bet your sweet testosterone levels, the white male factor is overwhelming. Granted, as an interested bystander, checking in on the quality of this event... listening in online, getting less than complete bits and bytes of the line-up, I NOTICED what you are alluding to... I noticed enough that the whole point kept me up 'til 4 in the morning thinking about the future of womankind and myself in this environment. I especially want to hear a woman talk about happiness and technology, mothering to optimize the future, whether you make a human or nurture them once they are here. What is to be done? "World Changing" ain't happening with the demographic represented. Letting the diversity of this conference be a secondary consideration, well, is just supporting the status quo.


You are asking about a topic that I consider to be of ENORMOUS importance.

On the bright side: Don't forget the enormous strides our society has made in the last 30 years in accepting women in public positions of prominence and power. Biology is NOT destingy because we are capable of using our advanced reasoning power and ingenuity to overcome biological imperatives. We can fly even though we don't have wings, we can become vegetarians even though we are meat eaters by nature, and we can overcome gender roles supposedly dictated by instinct and biology.

I wake up every morning enormously grateful to have been born in this time and place where my goals and status are not determined by my reproductive system or my inability to lift as much as a man. I think it is extremely exciting to be part of an era in history different than any other-- the first era where women have had the opportunity to influence and shape our society on the same basis as men.

That having been said, I am also conscious that this is still a new thing, a unique thing historically, and that we still have a ways to go. I also think that we cannot just blithely assume that women in our society will enjoy their current status forever; women only began entering law, medicine, business, etc. en masse during the last 20 - 30 years compared to millenia of tending the home fires. Those concerned with women's equality must be vigilant about protecting the advances women have enjoyed.

Final thought -- Remember the huge movement in high schools and colleges during the '80s and early '90s to divest from South Africa? Why does one rarely hear the same level of outrage expressed about the truly horrific gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia???

Jan Anderson

The lack of women is disturbing and one reason I wasn't interested in going. It's not about quotas, but if the organizers can only think of interesting speakers who happen to be white males, there's something really missing. It means they only visualize those perspectives, because there are tons of interesting women doing amazing socio-technical research who could present perspectives and research and are great interesting speakers. Yesterday on the audio channel, one speaker mentioned Annalee Saxsenian. How about Liz Lawley? How about Mimi Ito?

Where is the backchannel IRC and why can't we see it?


to have a disproportion of male to female speakers like this is insulting. I can't believe out of all the powerful thinkers on the board that no one brought it up or took steps to correct it. If this was corporate america you would hear some screaming going on and someone in human resources would be looking for a job. You almost have to try to achieve this much of an imbalance.
I want to ask bob what happen to all the women during the closing questions.


I'm inclined to agree with Jan and "Mother"--that if you only invite older white men to talk then you get their perspective on the future of the world, and one which frankly hasn't in the past had a really great track record of thinking smartly or inclusively about women/gender roles.


The problem with not using diversity as a filter for these kinds of events--or at least as an important lens to understand these kinds of events--is that without an explicit focus on gender, you end up reproducing classic power dynamics. You explained these better than I can with your reference to Frans de Waal's work. If we are still hard-wired to look to alpha males for leadership, to understand power and leadership through things like posture and height and masculinity, then it's no wonder that without an explicit gender focus, we end up inviting 29 men and 1 woman to speak at an event. There's some interesting historical research documenting how as jobs became more feminized--teaching, bartending, working in what we now call 'pink collar' jobs--they also became less prestigious. The scary thing is that we seem to devalue women's work not because of the work itself, but because women are doing it. The first step towards transcending our chimpanzee past is to identify this as a problem and adopt explicit strategies to diversify leaders. That's partly why diversity programs are so important--to make sure that our hardwiring and our evolutionary history doesn't make us discount interesting ideas and important thinking, just because it comes from a package that doesn't look like leadership.


Holy shit.

anthony citrano

Wait a second - who said you weren't getting pregnant fast enough? I heard that you were getting pregnant too quickly. Maybe because I wanted to hear it... explosion of population, etc. Didn't Chamie say the population of the world was going to be X trillion in a couple hundred years if the madness didn't stop?

Anyway, Gretchen, it is *not* a matter of inviting 29 men and 1 woman. It's that 29 men and 1 woman said yes. We invited at least ten women. I agree we shouldn't play tokenism -


If nine women said "no" find nine more who will say yes. What is the problem here? Is it not true that some speakers cancelled at the last minute and needed to be replaced as late as a week and a half ago? This was not a big deal to Andrew and Bob and that is the problem.


I read your post with interest, not really interest, but pity. Waaaah. Waaah. Waah. You probably arent concerned about the lack of blacks or hispanics, because you couldn't coddle up next to one and gain power like said gorilla. Do you realize all the injustice in the world is directed straight at you?

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