Gender and ethnic imbalance in web design speaker conference lineups reflects a wider such imbalance in the industry as a whole. This imbalance bothers me as much as it bothers Kottke. I am glad Kottke raised the issue in his recent post, although I think it is a mistake to hold conferences accountable for deeper problems in the industry they serve. But that doesn’t for a minute get conference planners off the hook.
The problem is visible at the top because it exists at the bottom. There are barriers to entering the field and barriers to doing well in it. Some of these barriers are economic: not everyone has access to needed tools and training. We are interested in systematic and permanent change in the field, not merely the appearance of change as represented in a conference speaker lineup. Soon we will announce real steps to put these concerns into action.