Gender Disparity in Debate

The announcement of this year’s MBA Round Robin pool sparked a bit of controversy: only one woman will be attending the prestigious competition, and it is unclear whether others were invited and simply declined to attend. The nation’s top nine bid-getters are all male, only one woman has appeared in the final round of an octafinals tournament this year (and only one all of last season), and the overwhelming majority of participants in elimination rounds are men. Clearly there is some gender disparity in debate; now is an opportune moment to discuss the issues so that the community can properly guide its actions moving forward.

What do you think are some of the causes of the gender disparity in debate? What are some appropriate remedies the community could use for these problems? To what degree does gender disparity compare with issues such as resource disparities or minority representation in debate? Specifically, are affirmative action policies in round robin invites, camp hires, and coaching jobs appropriate solutions to these problems (if one accepts that there is a gender disparity)? Should more women-only debate options (such as policy’s Women’s Debate Institute) exist in the LD world?