Regarding Dori Smith’s Comparison of Gender Diversity Among Speakers at Web Conferences to the Authors of Bestselling JavaScript Books

Dori Smith, responding to Kottke’s piece on gender diversity at web nerd conferences:

Some of those folks like to whine about how they just can’t find women out there who know anything about JavaScript and/or Ajax. Well, that’s a field I know a little something about, so here’s a quick rundown:

That’s ten women with current and/or best-selling JavaScript books. How many of them did you ask to speak at your conference?

OK, I’ll bite. Smith offers a list of 10 women culled from two lists of 100 books. Looking at Amazon’s 100 most popular JavaScript books, I compiled a list of 137 authors (some of the books have multiple authors). After removing non-persons (e.g., five of the books were authored by Adobe Systems Inc.) and duplicates (Danny Goodman was listed six times), we’re left with 106 unique authors. I count nine women (the same nine listed by Dori Smith), which works out to 8.5 percent.

On Kottke’s list of recent and upcoming web conferences, not counting BlogHer or SXSW (which had the highest percentages of women speakers, 100 and 31 percent, respectively), there were 73 women out of a total of 441 speakers, or 16.5 percent — which is almost double the rate of women authors in Amazon’s list of bestselling JavaScript books.

I’m not saying these numbers prove anything, but I am saying they certainly do not prove any sort of gender bias on the part of the conference organizers.

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