Another author mentioned the gender imbalance at the ACFW conference. That was one of the first things I noticed when I learned of ACFW. There just aren’t that many guys who attend. It looks like a big women’s meeting and for the most part it appears to be run like a big women’s meeting. This may make me sound like a male chauvinist, but there’s a big difference between the way men conduct meeting and the way women conduct meetings. I don’t like the way women conduct meetings. Stick a man in front of a large gathering and he’s all “let’s get on with this thing; we’ve got stuff we’ve got to get done.” With women it’s all peaches and cream. “Isn’t that a wonderful speech she just gave? Let’s give her a hand to show her how much we appreciate her.”
It could very well be that more men don’t attend the ACFW conference because they would rather listen to fingernails on a chalkboard than to sit through a women’s meeting. But let’s consider some other possibilities.
Men tend to think more logically than women and the logic of spending $1000 to attend a writers’ conference don’t compute when you consider that the agents there won’t sign very many people, only a small portion of those signed will get a publishing contract and most of the information being taught in the classes is available online for free. You don’t spend $1000 to make $50. It just doesn’t make sense. Still, people have other reasons for wanting to go, so let not rule it completely an issue of logic. Besides, there’re plenty of women who don’t like spending that kind of money for nothing also.
I could see throwing caution to the wind some year and just going to see what it’s all about. Maybe I could put up with a women’s meeting once and maybe spending money on a writers’ conference is better than spending it at Disneyland. But the fact that they hold this thing on a weekend is a major killer for me. For a “Christian” conference, this is a really dumb move. I am actively involved in my local church. At my day job I get three weeks of vacation per year. If the ACFW conference started Monday afternoon or Tuesday, I could take vacation, fly into the convention city and attend the conference. But with it taking place on the weekend, I have a harder time convincing myself I want to go because there’s always so much stuff going on at church that I don’t want to miss. In thinking about that, I thought about all of these preachers who have written books. Some of them may be able to call someone up to fill in for them on Sunday, but isn’t easy for pastors of small churches. I don’t expect these guys really want to leave their pulpit to go pitch a novel. And the same is true of many of the other positions in a church. If a man feels led to be in the ministry he is, he isn’t likely to go off and pitch a novel instead.
We often see women writers talking about how writing is their job and it is just as much of a career as that of their husbands. Hogwash! The fact is that most of the women writers out there are housewives who have time to write because their husbands are working to earn the money and the invention of the dishwasher, the washer and dryer, and the vacuum cleaner has given them time to sit in front of a computer screen. There are more women novelists because more women have time to be novelists.
So for as long as ACFW lasts, I think we’ll continue to see it primarily attended by women.