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Next Gen Developer Web x.0, conferences and more...

OK I will probably get lynched for even considering to write this particular post and I am not trying to cause controversy at all, however I have been looking around at some of the recent blog conversations that have been popping up on the various blog sites such as here and here.  And we had a discussion at BarCamp London on the same subject. 

The thing is we can talk about why women aren't going to these events amongst the bloggers but to be honest I see the bloggers at the events, they actually do turn up to the conferences and the talks... It is the non blogger females that are out there who don't necessarily hear about the events or don't have the time to go to them etc that are the ones that I am interested in knowing more about.  These are the women that get on with their jobs and spend a lot of their time with (hopefully) a healthy work life balance.  They may not be bloggers but they are still females in tech!

I guess what I am wondering is what is it that conference and event organisers aren't catering for at these events.  What is it that the women are looking for but don't find at these events.  I am pretty sure that the male female ratio isn't the only thing that is putting women off of going to events.  And I am also wondering how things can be improved for events and also what the communications channels are that aren't being used that obviously should be!

No doubt I am using the wrong medium to ask the questions so feel free to ask people you know to get the conversation started if you know someone who could open up the conversation! This is about inclusion of more people and it's a learning excercise for everyone.

Robert mentionned that maybe it is the women not putting themselves forward to speak at events.  I know that I for one have only been in the industry for 2 years and as such feel as though I am still a baby in comparison to some of those people who have been around for a lot longer.  It's not that I don't think I can do it, it is more a case of I will do it if people want me to but only if it is going to be what others want.  I do wonder how many others are in the same position in that sense.  I.e. they think there are others more qualified with more experience who could provide a deeper input than they could themselves. (Is it time for a site or location for people to nominate the people they would like to see speaking regularly at conferences.... and subject areas ;) )

I also know that it can be daunting talking in front of people who you know to be intelligent, highly proficient and technically ept.  I think what Robert needs to be very carful of is that he doesn't go too far looking for his diversity amongst his interviewees.  I mean it's fine to want to look for interesting and different content but if the interesting stuff is in a male centric domain then so be it... and have the experts talk on their subject area.

Something that became very clear at BarCamp is that women don't want to be treated like a special case, a bit like I don't like to be treated as a special case for being lactose intollerant when I go out to dinner.  This is why I am asking what it is that would make women more interested in the events and conferences.  I am sure there is something that we are missing.  It may be a culture thing or an environment or even location thing.  Who knows... (not I says I)

I am not saying that women aren't experts btw... I am just saying let the people who know their subject domain best to the talking on it... personally I don't care whether they are male or female.  I go to events to learn about a subject and if I speak I am there to teach people on a subject... simple as that. 

I do have a question that some of the big events organisers may be able to answer... why don't they let the female centric user groups and communities know about their events by sending the details of the events to them?  I know that Women in Technology have an area dedicated to up and coming events and it is rarely used by big conference organisers for ordinary tech events just women centric ones... and for London Girl Geek Dinners I let the girls know about events from other organisers from time to time.  I am seriously considering putting together an RSS feed for the girls so that they can find out about all up and coming tech events that I am informed of... It just makes sense...

OK I am going to finish this here or I will go on all day.  Feedback welcome!

Posted on Friday, September 8, 2006 9:10 AM Geek Dinners , London Girl Geek Dinners | Back to top


Comments on this post: Women, Technology, Blogs and Conferences

# re: Women, Technology, Blogs and Conferences
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hi Sarah.

You make a great point when you say that it's the bloggers you see turning up to events/conferences etc.

I wonder if it is because of one or both of these reasons:
a) bloggers network - bloggers find out about events sooner, find out more about them, know more about the people who are presenting

b) obsessive communicators - bloggers have a predeliction for talking about issues they're interested in and making connections with others who have having similar discussion. So going to events is a natural 'real life' extension of that.

I think I'm leaning towards A being more important because when I was thinking about B I was going to say that bloggers are generally more extroverted... but on further reflection, that's not necessarily true at all.

Would be interested to hear what others think.
Left by leisa.reichelt on Sep 08, 2006 5:37 PM

# re: Women, Technology, Blogs and Conferences
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GREAT post Sarah!

You have created a magnificent context for community dialogue by framing a number of very useful initial questions regarding this issue of women and their inviolvement, participation and contributions in the world of technology, including conferences and events. Your links to the recent posts by Leisa (good post) and Robert Scoble (left a lot to be desired) are very helpful as is the podcast.

Frankly, I was a tad more than a little surprised by the (at best) confused thinking expressed by Robert in his post. In fairness, he may not have understand the import of the subject at the time he wrote the original post, and he did begin to adjust and clarify his position in his replies to the various comments (my comment is #74).

BTW regarding a few of the commenters to Robert's post... Shelley is wonderful, very tough and feisty, passionate and clear on the position that women are equal and she is very willing to fight for the rights of women. Tact and quiet effective diplomacy were not her tools of choice. As a conterpart, Elise responded powerfully (and effectively) by providing a list of women in tech who can clearly contribute to Robert's interview initiatives.
Left by Sheamus on Sep 09, 2006 5:29 AM

# re: Women, Technology, Blogs and Conferences
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GREAT post Sarah!

You have created a magnificent context for community dialogue by framing a number of very useful initial questions regarding this issue of women and their inviolvement, participation and contributions in the world of technology, including conferences and events. Your links to the recent posts by Leisa (good post) and Robert Scoble (left a lot to be desired) are very helpful as is the podcast.

Frankly, I was a tad more than a little surprised by the (at best) confused thinking expressed by Robert in his post. In fairness, he may not have understand the import of the subject at the time he wrote the original post, and he did begin to adjust and clarify his position in his replies to the various comments (my comment is #74).

BTW regarding a few of the commenters to Robert's post... Shelley is wonderful, very tough and feisty, passionate and clear on the position that women are equal and she is very willing to fight for the rights of women. Tact and quiet effective diplomacy were not her tools of choice. As a conterpart, Elise responded powerfully (and effectively) by providing a list of women in tech who can clearly contribute to Robert's interview initiatives.
Left by Sheamus on Sep 09, 2006 5:29 AM

# re: Women, Technology, Blogs and Conferences
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I mentioned Girl Geek Dinners to a (our only current) female developer at work, and her immediate reaction was "scary". But she didn't really mean that (well, not completely) - she's always the first person to acknowledge that she's not really intimidated by anything. I've known various female developers and technologists who wouldn't think to turn up to blog-publicised events (although to be fair I also know a fair number of males who don't as well).

I think to a large extent it's that they don't know what's out there, so you're absolutely on the money here. Whether there's something that can be done to get the word out more, I don't know ... something encouraging employers to make their developers aware of these kind of things is probably both impractical and overkill. Maybe we just need to wait, and talk to people one at a time...

There are many people who don't respond to blogging as a medium, men or women, and sometimes I certainly forget that.
Left by James Aylett on Sep 09, 2006 10:12 PM

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