Conferences are expensive to attend, time-consuming, and not really something I do for social purposes. I admittedly skip the "town hall" gatherings, the fundraising gala, and other events. I walk the vendor exhibits when the hall is least crowded, often right after lunch. So, the events are not for everyone. Yet, they shouldn't seem so exclusive, either.
How can we attract more voices to the conference? I'm not sure, but when you are an insular group, even without meaning to be exclusive, you don't learn as much as you could.
The problem is, any "solution" sounds condescending. Scholarships and grants might help, but how would those be awarded? Some already exist, yet they don't seem to be adding to the diversity. Is there a better solution?
Fathers need to attend. People of all ethnicities, religious traditions, and economic backgrounds need to attend. We need to gather and learn.
Surely, I'm not the only person concerned that the "faces of autism" panel was pretty homogeneous. That's not to dismiss the importance of our voices, but a recognition that there are other voices, too.