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.