Many creators have tried to address the under-representation of women in comics and other corners of speculative fiction media — by publishing female-centric anthologies, by hosting panels for female creators. Comics writer Paul Cornell has decided to use himself as an instrument for gender parity, by refusing to sit on any panel where half the participants aren't women.
Cornell made the vow earlier this week, saying that panel organizers should make more of an effort to include women on their panels:
I think there should be gender parity on every panel at every convention. I'm after 50/50, all the time. I want that in place as an expectation, as a rule. Now, to make that happen, what really should be done is a ground-up examination of society, huge changes at the heart of things which would automatically lead to women being equally represented everywhere, not just on convention panels. Well, we've all wanted that and worked for that for decades, especially those of us in fandom, and it just hasn't happened. So, this year, I've decided that I'm going to approach this problem via the only moral unit I'm in charge of: me. I'm going to approach this problem from the other end. And this approach is going to be very much that of a blunt instrument.
If I'm on, at any convention this year, a panel that doesn't have a 50/50 gender split (I'll settle for two out of five), I'll hop off that panel, and find a woman to take my place.
Cornell is willing to make an exception for project-specific panels where most of the creators happen to be male, and he does acknowledge that sometimes a 50/50 split could mean the best person won't be the one sitting on the panel. But he's calling for more female voices included on panels — and more women seeing other women sitting on panels.
You can read his whole reasoning behind the vow on his blog. So, do you think panels should aim for a 50/50 gender split? Or would it cause more problems than it solves?
Image by Mike Russell from CulturePulp.