“Take me! I am available! I am yours!”


While trying to catch up with mail and news from nearly 4 weeks (being on the road and sick) I was reading on the new entries to the old discussion on female speakers. I have talked about this before as well but while reading Rachel Andrew’s article “Diversity thoughts” a thought popped into my mind about the lack of women raising their hands and applying for speaker positions.

Is it possible that social structures are drilled so hard into our behaviour that most women will not raise their hand and say – basically – “Take me! I am available!” because there is a meaning to it which relates to being hookers?

Think about it. You do “sell yourself” or “offer yourself” when you apply. And around tech you do this mostly to men. Then you go up on a stage and – again – sell yourself. Like on a market.

When you promote yourself, some men do call this “whoring myself” – something even as the lightest joke many women would probably not say.

Of course this focusses just on the negative side of it – but bit by bit (this, child care, costs, being uncomfortable with it, old boys club, no ROI for women, no real interest in the topics etc) it leads up to the sum of “I will not apply”.

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3 Responses to ““Take me! I am available! I am yours!””

  1. Nicole,

    Greetings via Diva Marketing from a “Made in Italy” living in the US. That is a powerful concept, which I can really see in how companies view workers even in a more progressive environment such as the one on this side of the pond. The only logical solution I see to that is to never give up and continue doing what one does best. Where do I apply?

  2. This post made me laugh. For some reason, these ‘innuendo alarms’ never go off in my head, to the great amusement of my friends. For example, on the barcamplondon2 helpers list, I put ‘ready and willing’, without a second thought. Several of my friends were pleased to point out this phrase’s more salacious connotations, and I told them they were far too old to be acting so adolescent. But of course I only held out a few days before I went and edited the phrase!

    For me, part of my reluctance to participate in these things is that it is still such a big deal to have girls around. (I’m as guilty of it as anyone, having read most uk geek girls’ blogs and only a fraction of the guys’.) It’s no excuse not to participate, but it will be a relief when it’s no longer a novelty to have ladies on stage. (There really is no escaping the innuendo, is there?)

  3. Jonathan Marks says:

    I do quite a lot of conference organisation and actively seek out intelligent women to take part in panels or keynote. I find that in many countries women are often comfortable in coming forward to sell a product or a service, but less forthcoming in wanting to stand up and share an opinion, especially in a male-dominated conference/audience. I can appreciate it. Some of the media conferences I have been to lately in the Netherlands are 95% male and it must be daunting to face the greying mass. That’s why active search by organizers is important to balance the situation. Fortunately, there are many female authors and journalists who are willing to share experiences when approached in the right way. And, over time, this helps to set the gender balance better in the audience.