Thursday, 24 January 2013

Conferences and quotas, pt2.

I feel that when it comes to "discussing" the issue of the representation of minorities in our profession of web creators, people get themselves in to paradoxical positions all too easily. After a little spat today it's clear that, once again, there are a group of people that don't realise they should either be supporting those of us that are saying diversity quotas are a good idea, or should accept that they are being discriminatory in their opinion.

"How are they being discriminatory?" you might ask, or as someone on twitter has lamented (paraphrasing) "Don't disagree with quotas, even if you agree with equality, you'll be labeled a misogynist!"

Well, yes, you might...and perhaps the fact you don't quite see the obvious link that makes that label apply to you is part of your problem.

You see people calling for quotas aren't saying that people who are bad speakers should be on the roster, they're saying that there are talented people of all colours and creeds and in order to help nurture future talent in a diverse way we should showcase our diversity.

Now, if you agree with this you shouldn't disagree with quotas. The implementation of a quota doesn't reduce the amount of quality on offer, it only changes the person that is standing on stage in front of you. Your experience doesn't change, no-one that doesn't deserve the spotlight has been given a platform. It's essentially exactly the same situation as if the conference organiser had willingly chosen to create a diverse line-up rather than being (for the want of a better term) "forced" to.

But if you view that those, especially women, are pushing quotas because they want "token" women for diversity reasons you are NOT accepting that women have just as much talent and ability to stand on that stage. You are, perhaps implicitly, letting your prejudices on show. Your first instinct is that women don't deserve to be there in the first place, and it shows in your language.

So if you are disagreeing with quotas have a long, hard think and ask yourself why you really oppose them, and don't complain that you're getting called on your prejudices while you do.