I was very sad to find this post yesterday.
Speaking in a purely personal capacity, I hope that I never will be (indeed, never have been) accepted as a conference speaker because I am female. I also hope never to attend a conference where speakers have been selected for any other reason that they are the best qualified individuals to talk on their subject material.
As a director of PHP London and one of the organisers of the PHP UK Conference I would wish to reassure our speakers, particularly our female speakers, and attendees that talks were selected primarily on the merit of their submission. In fact, when I graded the talks I looked only at the title, abstract and their reasons for wanting to speak – I had no idea if I was selecting women or men.
Anyone who wishes to address the lack of diversity in our industry would be better to lend their support groups already working in this area, for example WAAA. Or, failing that, supporting initiatives that are directed at changing the way that computing is taught in schools.
Read what Trisha Gee has to say on diversity. In her last paragraph she speaks of role models and I can’t improve on her words. Although I’m female my role models are mostly male and as it happens, Andrew Betts is one of them.