Last week Paul Cornell of Dr Who and DC Comics fame made a personal statement about gender parity, it caused much debate and discussion all of which was largely positive – you can peruse some of the discussion at my round up post here.
Essentially he was prepared to step down from any panel he was on and be replaced by a suitably qualified female member of the audience. The problems with this plan were pointed out and the discussion moved on to what could effect real change. I believe the Fifty Fifty Festivals organisation is the outcome of the discussion that surrounds Paul’s ‘stunt’.
Really good news.
So what did the organisers of Paul’s latest scheduled panel appearance do? Well this is what Paul advises us
This is mainly because Stan Lee is in town for the London Super Comic Con. I'll be going along to that convention, spending some considerable time at my table, and helping to judge the cosplay contest, but I won't be appearing on the DC panel because, in the face of my Panel Parity Plan, the organisers decided the simplest course of action, rather than find an equal number of women who could talk on the panel in an informed way about DC Comics (there's no reason everyone on the panel has to work for the company) was to chuck me off it.
I've considered a few responses to that, but I think in the end the most reasonable course of action is to go along and talk to people about the situation.
Now I don’t know the specific relationship legal or otherwise between Mr Cornell, DC Comics or the organisers but I’d like to think that If I was the monkey in charge of the PR/Organisation, an email to Paul might have gone something like this.
I note with interest and a little dismay your Panel Parity plan. The committee has discussed the issues that brought about this proposed course of action from you and we ask that you do not proceed.
We agree that something should be done to address gender parity at our conventions, the panel’s make up was an oversight. To change it this year, at such short notice would be difficult and disruptive.
We are open to suggestions about how we might improve gender parity next year and would appreciate, your suggestions.
Frankly it’s called communication. And yes perhaps Paul could have contacted them directly and made his opinions known privately. I’d like to think, however, that a professional organisation who has to deal with any number of “creative personalities” would be adept at smoothing things over, compromise etc.
Instead it seems that these organisers come from the George W Bush school of negotiation.