I see the programming at the recent WorldCon and for the upcoming World Fantasy Con is being widely discussed, most particularly concerning perceived lack of fairness/relevance of the topics under discussion to anyone other than comfortably-off, mature, white men.
Panel parity is a very good way to address the very real problem of cultural inertia in fandom, as we discovered at UK’s Eastercon this year. Because panel parity is NOT about giving poor inadequate girlies/others a place on platforms which they cannot otherwise win on merit.
It’s about expecting convention/event organisers to offer the best possible breadth and depth of current viewpoints & opinions that they can muster from their programme volunteers.
The whole event will benefit by way of more interesting and varied debate – because a homogeneous panel of four white men (or women or any other group) will be far, far more inclined to only offer four variations of the same viewpoint or to debate the pros and cons of a single argument based on generally the same experience.
Looking forward, hopefully seeing that inclusiveness will encourage other folk from under-represented groups within fandom to volunteer in future.
Provided they don’t see bombastic white men talking over and dismissing any one else’s contribution – which apparently did happen at WorldCon. That’s something else con-organisers/panel moderators need to come down on hard.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly, Mary Robinette Kowal has posted an online survey to get some actual data on the current state of fandom. Please do go and complete it and then read the current results – quite an eye-opener! Her blog post and link to the survey are here