Working together for standards The Web Standards Project


[To those who are advocates of politically correct language, I apologize in advance for the blunt way in which I frame the role of race in this post.]

Between Jason Kottke and WaSP founder Jeffrey Zeldman, the buzz is building yet again on the subject of conference panel composition… specifically, the fact that most participants are white men.

This is a standards issue, too. For reasons of culture and temperament, people who aren’t white men bring something to the theory and practice of Recommendation track technologies that would otherwise be totally absent from the evolution of those technologies. While those voices are present to a degree, it seems likely they are present to a much smaller proportion than their counterparts n the web user population as a whole.

While it’s difficult to prove the consequences of this under-representation, I offer a simple exercise: how would a well known standard, say CSS, behave if more women had participated in its formulation?

In any case, there’s no doubt in my mind that women and non-whites are under-represented in the larger public dialogue about web technologies because they are under-represented in the population of web professionals.

Do you agree with my assertion? If so, why do you believe it’s true? If you identify as a member of a group I’ve labeled here as under-represented, what obstacles or disincentives have you faced when attempting to raise your profile as a web expert? What stops you from successfully encouraging women and non-whites to pursue their vocations on the web?

Your Replies

#1 On February 25th, 2007 11:14 am