Strong opinions, weakly held

Women and men

Anil Dash has a good post on why it’s a good idea to explicitly seek out female speakers for tech conferences. I don’t go to many tech conferences, but I have my own point to add on the subject of the value of diversity.

I have been playing online games for many years, and in those games, I’ve been in many guilds (organized associations of players who band together to just hang out or to achieve common goals). I’ve been in guilds that have a lengthy and complex application process, and guilds where I’ve been invited a minute or two after inquiring about the guild. In my experience, there is one simple indicator of whether a guild is good or bad, and that’s whether or not it has female members.

Guilds with no female members are the worst. Guilds with lots of female members, especially those that have females involved in the leadership, are the best. That’s the only rule you need to remember when looking for a guild. Guilds that don’t have female players in there tend to be rife with homophobic comments, selfish players, and idiocy. Guilds that have female players are more civil and don’t have all of the negative attributes of a locker room atmosphere.

Diversity is a worthwhile end unto itself.


  1. Funny that this comes up today. At work, I’ve just joined a recently formed new development team, and as we were sitting in team meetings this week, it struck me that the team was all male (in contrast to the other teams I’ve been on recently). I’m firmly convinced that the addition of a couple of women somehow improves the interactions of a team. Lots of theories as to why this is. I just emailed the team lead to think about this.

    NOTE: I’d prefer more than ‘a couple’ of women, but software dev is a male-dominated profession, so it would be VERY difficult to achieve a more gender-balanced constituency.

  2. Hi Rafe,

    Take a look at the concept of “deep diversity”




  3. Anil Dash: “Those of you who are defending this status quo are defending a culture of failure”

    The past few days there seems an opening in the ongoing conversation talking place about speaker lists at tech conferences…

  4. I’d say it’s because women provide structure and multi-task better. We also think on our feet and use ALL of our past experience in coming to decisions. Generally all bases are covered before we put forward an idea and we always have a back up plan, and mostly would have a back-up to the back-up brewing. I find that the women I work with are focused on the task in hand, break only when they reach their target and generally don’t piss about. Men I work with, on the other hand, arse about most of the day then try to cram, in the afternoon, all the the day’s work, leaving themselves no time for reflection on what they’ve achieved and what they can do next.

    The only drawback to this is putting more than two women on a team as we tend to feel that we are running the show. Where men will back down when faced with their ‘Alpha Man’, women tend towards putting themselves on an even footing with any women they perceive to be ranked above them.

    😀 K.

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