It was slightly surprising to see an article in USA Today that talks about atheism and feminism without sneering at either one.
Now, more than a month after “Elevatorgate” erupted, freethinkers are assessing its meaning. Many acknowledge they have a “woman problem” — men outnumber women at atheist gatherings, both at the podium and in the audiences.
In the audiences is tricky to fix. At the podium is dead easy – just invite them. Invite me, for instance. Invite Katha Pollitt, Wendy Kaminer, Kathryn Joyce, Michelle Goldberg, Janet Heimlich, Vyckie Garrison.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, notes that while men might fill their gatherings, women often lead freethought organizations. She has directed FFRF’s local chapters to use more women — at least 50 percent — in their billboard and bus banner ads.
“We want to be proactive and make sure there is diversity,” she said. “The movement is big enough now.”
That is reflected in a new “Women in Secularism” conference announced in August by the Center for Inquiry. The conference, billed as the first of its kind, will be held in May in Washington, D.C., and will feature an all-female lineup.
“A lot of us think it is long overdue,” said Melody Hensley, executive director of the center’s Washington office and the organizer of the event, which will include Jacoby, Watson and Gaylor*. “If you have women leaders, you are going to have more women. So this conference is a step forward to attract more women to the cause.”