Why only 2 women speakers out of 17 Ajit (and any other conference organiser out there)?
And don't tell me this is representative of the industry because I know it isn't - we have good female representation at Mobile Mondays, more women come to Swedish Beers now and the women in the Women in Mobile Data Assocation are plentiful! I even hear long the grapevine that the MMA has a strong female contingent.
And yes, this is a particular bugbear of mine. But with good reason. So bear with me.
I'm fed up to the back teeth of the established conference companies ignoring women in the mobile industry (Informa being a recent obvious culprit) and coming up with lame excuses as to why women aren't involved.
But to have the opportunity to have a home-grown event as it were without relying on the Informa's of this world, and *still* to only have 2 speakers out of 17, is this acceptable in 2008? Still, at least it's 2. And 2 is better than none.
I'm not a bra-burning feminist by any stretch of the imagination. But come on, this is the 21st Century and we've had the vote a while now. Women make 80% of buying decisions, women are more prolific on the internet than men, women are driving social networking - why aren't they (we) visible at potentially game-changing events where real decisions are made about all our digital futures, when potentially, it will probably impact most on women's day to day lives than men's.
I don't expect to get to 50/50 but to get to 25% visibility would be a start and not unreasonable I'd have thought. Or am I deluded here?
And don't give me the comment 'well if it's a choice between a man and a woman speaker and the man's the better qualified speaker then we choose the man' because in *most* cases in my 8 year experience of attending mobile conferences and events, there are few 'brilliant' speakers on the circuit at all - male or female - so there isn't usually an issue of having to choose between them. And with different formats, different styles of speakers get a chance to shine.
It still feels like women are pretty much invisible and that the mobile industry is still very much a boy's club. [And yes, I know it's not just the mobile industry.]
1. Do we need to rethink event formats to make them more accessible to women? And if so, what are those formats?
2. How do we boost the confidence of female participants so that they say yes more times than they say no when asked to contribute as a speaker, panellist, moderator, whatever?
3. How do we encourage women to take networking and conferencing at this level seriously and make it a core part of their jobs rather than something they do once in a blue moon?
4. How do we encourage companies to put women forward as speakers as often as, or sometimes instead of the men in their companies?
As a woman, you might think I qualify to answer these questions. Unfortunately, I don't suffer from a fear or reticence of speaking at events. I don't work for a big company so I don't have a glass ceiling to break through (I've experienced it in the past though), so I don't necessarily understand some of what's going on here and why these problems persist or what to do about them so I'm particularly interested to hear others views and perceptions - and that's from men *and* women please!
I do believe this is a problem. And I do think we can change it if we want to and hope that if I keep piping up about it, something positive may happen.
Happy to start another thread about this if appropriate.
Some further links here too (and it's worth looking at the comments and links to other posts to get the full picture):