In last week’s post, A Short Take on Shorting Women, I left off some things I meant to add, and found a few more worth adding:
I’d meant to point to
GeekSpeakr.com, which is a wonderful new resource for finding women speakers for tech conferences. If you’re a woman who would like to be doing more tech conference appearances, go add yourself there (unsurprisingly, I can be found here).
There’s been previous attempts to do lists of women speakers, but they’ve always had issues. The one at personism.com is primarily focused on the arts with very little tech, and the one at The Speaker’s Wiki (started via Blogher) suffers from, well, the same problems that any openly-editable wiki does (and yes, I did do a private writeup on the problems I found and offered to help out to right them, but I never heard back—no surprise there).
Have a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend tagging along to Toronto? We’re running a ‘girlfriend daycare’ to help evade the boredom that is often spawned from being the less-nerdy travel companion. Details soon.
I pointed this out in the group’s discussion area (subject: Egregiousness…), adding “Because, y’know, girlfriends are children who need to be taken care of, not adults who can be allowed out on their own in a strange city!”
But if you look at the conference home page now, it says:
Have a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend tagging along to Toronto? We’re running an activity program to help evade the boredom that is often spawned from being the less-nerdy travel companion. Details soon.
One small step for a few guys…
One of the things I noticed after a few other people started adding conferences to the list was, well, how many O’Reilly Conferences had been listed. I was expecting to get some pushback, but instead, Jesse Robbins, a program chair for their Velocity Conference, not only wrote some nice things in the comments on my last blog post but also joined the Upcoming group.
The question comes up: what causes a conference to be perceived as needing more women speakers? That may differ for every person who belongs to the group, and it’s the main reason why I didn’t want this to be just a me-project—what may strike me as plenty of female representation may be seen as way too few by someone else, and vice versa. And while I definitely don’t believe in quota systems, my rule of thumb tends to be:
- Is the speaker list less than 10% female?
- Are talks by women primarily on “soft” topics—that is, ones like People For Geeks or Running a successful user group? Those, I don’t even count.
- Are there women doing token talks, such as Form an orderly queue, ladies or Heroes – Women in FOSS? My personal score sheet takes points away from those conferences.
- Are there any women on the conference committee?
That last one, imo, is HUGE. I’ve said before that I know that it can be hard to get women willing to speak publicly (for a variety of reasons), but you can get them to help with planning. Get more women involved with conference committees, and the end result will be a more diverse speaker list.
And btw: yes, that last point there is me, volunteering. Want me on your conference committee? Just ask.