My institute is creating an annual list of invited speakers and solicited suggestions from staff. It was at pains to point out that although only "n" 18% of suggestions received were female, they made up "n+1" 31% of the speakers selected to talk. As a female student, this makes me feel uncomfortable that women seem to be getting preferential treatment - is this normal practice in academia, in the UK or elsewhere?
Edit: I didn't mean my question to sound insulting, I'm sorry if it sounded that way. Everyone invited is perfectly qualified and I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. It just seemed a little strange all the women on the shortlist made it through whilst quite a few men didn't. And that the email took on an apologetic tone and emphasized this so heavily. I was just interested in whether this is common as it makes me feel a little uneasy that gender plays such a prominent role in the organizers' thinking. Thanks.