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Women’s voices in type & ATypI »

I need feedback!

Prior to this year’s TypeCon Denver conference, which I’m at right now, there was a fairly hot twitter discussion about the relative lack of female speakers in the lineup, at about 17%. The discussion was nicely captured by Indra Kupferschmid. It got an eloquent response on Medium from Elizabeth CareySmith, and spurred major interviews and research from Dyana Weissman, which you can read in her epic article/series on Typographica.

When I saw the Twitter discussion (a few days late, due to travel), I started a discussion with my fellow ATypI board members, and started crunching numbers about our own conference. I found that we have about 30% female attendees the past two years, and also about 30% female speakers last year and in the coming conference this year. (Although this year is differently skewed, with 50/50 women in the opening two-track day with workshops, and fewer in the single-track portion of the conference—unlike last year.) This also tracks well with the percentages of submissions, at least for this year.

Women have a much higher participation level in type and type design in the younger generation, the last 5-10 years has really seen a big shift. Given that, it might be tempting to think that if our speakers reflect the same diversity as our (younger-skewing than speakers) attendees, we are doing okay. Is that a fair assessment? Or do we need to do more?

(Oh, and yes, I and others are also aware that there are other diversity issues not only among conference speakers but in our entire industry: quick, how many black TypeCon or ATypI speakers, or type designers, can you name?)

This is an active plea for feedback about gender diversity in the ATypI conference in particular—most especially from women in type and type design. You can message me privately if you’d rather not say something public.

(I’ve already had one board member say that, which made me sad. Damn. but it turned out she just meant she thought it was boring and didn’t think we had a problem with gender at ATypI conferences. Anyway, I welcome feedback, really.)