Posts Tagged ‘women and technology’

Seriously, Where Are the Women Keynote Speakers?

Happy Twenty Twelve everyone. What a great year 2012 is shaping up to be. For me the most distinguishing element is the huge amount of positive energy I am feeling from everyone around me, combined with a sense of massive optimism…. Energy is boundless right now.

However, I am still amazed every time I look at an international, national or local technical conference to not find women Keynote speakers or session leads! Why is that? Women are about 50% of the technical workforce, highly educated, awesome at what they do, yet when it comes to standing at the podium, they are passed up. Why? The net-net of today’s technical conferences around the globe is that not only are there few to no leading women speakers, but female active attendance at these events are also low. The latter, trust me, is an issue that organizers are very concerned about.

I can tell you that the organizers of these conferences would love to have women on the stage, but they are not finding the right pool of women. OK, I agree, they are not trying very hard but fact is the choices are not abundant. Do an experiment – look over the websites for some of the top conferences, and look at the speaker roster… count the number of women! Hard to believe we are in 2012!

I would love to hear from you about this topic. Here are a few thoughts I will put out there:

1.  Everyone (male/female) should become more vocal about the ridiculousness of having 0 or 1 female speaker at multi-day events. Call up the organizers, send an email. They will respond.
2.  Recommend great speakers and if you feel you are one, start putting your name out there.
3.  Are you inspired to go to events if it is considered a ‘male-heavy’ event? How would you change it?
4.  Do you have great topics to discuss—- submit your abstract.
5.  Can you substantially increase the visibility and draw of the event, let the organizers know.
6.  Remind the organizers that having the same corporate speakers, saying the same story is not the best approach. Challenge and be positive. How many conferences have you been at the where the same speaker gives the same talk year after year… there is so much more we can do!
7.  Ask the organizers how many women have registered. They want more female participation. They will listen.
8.  Remember that conferences are amazing places to network, for everyone and not just your marketing folks. So, get out there. Network and meet up with great other individuals.

And finally, if you want to be a speaker and you are female, make your topic super interesting, engaging and be fearless. Know that if you want to be the speaker you are going to be on the podium with hundreds of attendees listening to you , instantly casting their social views of your talk in tweets AND you are on the spot and will be judged. This is perhaps what is hardest for women speakers… causes tons of intimidation.

This is a the core issue. If we want more fantastic women speakers, we need to create this culture of very strong, passionate and engaging women speakers who are willing to take center stage and be visible. Are we ready? Are you ready? The only thing stopping you is YOU!

From my own personal experience, I find that conference organizers are looking for highly engaging, stimulating and passionate speakers who are resident experts in their topics. They are also smart enough to know that more women speakers and keynotes will drive more female registration. We are all on the same team. So, what is stopping us all to make this happen?!

My goal soon is to see the speaker roster be split equally between women and men. Difficult: yes. Impossible: No. I want to know what you think.

Let’s rock and roll friends!


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