Is the BlogHer Conference Guilty of Sex Discrimination

Last week July 18th through the 20th was this years BlogHer Conference. According to the Blogher website their mission is:

To create opportunities for women who blog to pursue exposure, education, community, and economic empowerment.

To those organizers I challenge them to look in the mirror and realize that you’ve now become the same evil and sexist pigs you started out with the goal of overcoming.

So whats my gripe, that Blogher limits their conference speakers to only women. Don’t believe me go to any of the past speaker lists (link, link, link, link) and try to find a speaker who is a man, do an on page search for “his”, “him”, or ” he”, now try searching for “her” her’s” or “she”, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not that I don’t think that women aren’t qualified to speak, nothing could be farther from the truth, but I do ask the following question, if you want to provide the best conference are only women qualified to speak.

Now Blogher doesn’t completely discourage against men attending, here’s a flickr set of the BlogHer men attendees, including people like Robert Scoble. However if you are a man and you want to attend BlogHer, you’re treated like second class citizen, only to be seen and not heard.

Do you think Blogher should only have women speakers, what if I told you I was organizing a conference and only men were speaking? The only way women can get in was to pay the full admission price, and go sit quietly in the audience. Have a few choice names you’d like to call me after reading that, then why is it OK for blog her to do the exact same thing, and you’re OK with that, or somehow find that empoering?

The most common argument I’ll get is what about the “mommy bloggers” or “work at home moms (WHAM)” and how Blogher has speakers that can speak on those topics better than men. To that I counter Mommy bloggers and work at home moms face the same issues as Daddy bloggers and work at home dads. We all struggle to find the work-life balance. We struggle to run a professional business and to be available to take client calls and go to meetings, but to also be home by 3:30 to pickup the kids after school, bring them to dance class, ballet class, religious instruction, swim class, birthday parties, play dates, do the food shopping and cook a dinner that’s healthy and everybody will eat, without going crazy. And yes I do the food shopping, and I cook dinner, even on the holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. So those aren’t “mommy” issues those are parent issues.

The next common argument I hear is that women weren’t/aren’t taken seriously, or accepted as part of mainstream media/publishing. This is a common argument from groups that are minorities or perceive themselves as minorities. They feel that by creating a group of only their members they can “swing the pendulum in the other direction” and create some sense of balance. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What it really does is underline and accentuate the differences between the two groups, strengthening the divisive wall between them. For example do you want to be known as the “best woman tech blogger”? I wouldn’t … what that really says is I may be the best woman tech blogger but when you compare me to all the male tech bloggers I don’t make the cut. You should never strive to be the best woman lawyer, best woman doctor, or best woman blogger, you should striver to be the best doctor, lawyer, or blogger, regardless of your gender.

Still not convinced Blogher hasn’t become their own worst enemy? Have you ever been to conference where a panel was made up of all men? How about an entire conference where all of the speakers where only men? Awkward aren’t they? I’m not advocating putting a “token woman” on the panel, because that’s wrong on so many levels. What I am saying is there are just as many smart women as there are men, and both are equally qualified to speak, and conference organizers should strive for balanced representation among speakers, not a lopsided selection to make up for past injustices.

So how bout it Blogher conference organizers can you rise to the challenge and create something more than a modern “old boys network”? If the organizers of “Take Our Daughters to Work Day” can change to “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” you can too. Being a visionary leader takes the courage to admit when you make a mistake and take the steps to fix it …

see more dicussion from the blogher blog Mars & Venus in the Boardroom

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