Molly is hosting a panel discussion at SXSW which I will be attending. It is one of the many things I’m looking forward to in Austin; right up there with spending time with Jess. There seems to be some controversy over the fact that she has invited a man to speak on the panel. This to me seems silly. I’m much more interested to know where the men think we are than the women. We women know exactly where we are. But in all seriousness, the fighting over who got invited to speak — which women and which men — seems to me symptomatic of the very problem. Web design is clubby. This is because these days web designers communicate by blogging, and blogging is clubby by nature. You link to your friends, and they link to you. Blogging also happens to be public, so I can follow the musings of a web designer I admire, and after a while I can see his social network becoming evident in his posts. And I realize that A) I am not a part of his social network; even though his thoughts are important to me, mine are not important to him, and B) he is friends with a lot of other men. It just so happens that there is a big group of friends that are famous and write books. And they write good books that have helped me, and I get value out of reading their blogs. They don’t read my blog or link to me because I am not a part of their social network, and they have lives outside of their work. They barely have time to keep up with their friends. That doesn’t bother me. I’m confident in my work and I have no real desire to write books. I have to force myself to write this. Maybe the reason why the men of the “A list” are friends with more men than women is the same reason why I am friends with more women than men. Or maybe it’s because they’re ubergeeks that can’t relate to girls. Not likely, since I think there are women among that group, Molly being one of them. OK— that was all a little facetious, but I think the “problem” may partially be that simple. I’m not saying that “A-listers” don’t go out of their way to point out those who are doing good work that they don’t know, because I think most of them do. I just think that it’s human nature to form a social group and maintain it. So I don’t think women being less visible in the web design world is any kind of conspiracy. I think once you mix together that facts that girls are not encouraged to go into math or science when they’re young, that it is a little harder for women to gain respect in almost any workplace than it is for men (read Malcolm Gladwell’s book if you think you don’t make unconscious snap decisions based on gender no matter how many X chromosomes you have) and the fact that our main communication mechanism fosters a somewhat inbred network, and you get a scenario with more visible men. Maybe a better panel would be Meet the Women of Web Design, where we all could show our work. I’m sure it can stand on it’s own merits, and one you get to know us I’m sure you’ll love us.