Why a “women who would speak at conferences”-list would have merrits


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Renee Blodgett writes after Blogher:

We talked about the lack of women speakers at technology conferences….and what to do about it. There’s a need to create a master list of powerful interesting and dynamic woman and what they want to talk about, so we have access to this list when an opportunity comes up to recommend someone when asked or proactively submit someone’s name.

I generally don’t like the attitude of “oh we have to make something special for the minority!” especially when it comes to women, because many times it keeps them the minority. Do I link very often to women? No. Because most of the time they don’t post about things I am interested in or find worth mentioning. Just because you are a woman does not bring you on my blog posts – sorry, but that is not enough. It has to be interesting content too.

For such a list – just being on a list would not motivate me to recommend someone to speak about a topic – just because you are a women. Such lists tend to get out of hand and I have seen them filled with “oh there is no one on this category, quick, name anyone.” When I recommend someone, it is because I know what this person can do – regardless of gender. And btw, I found her because I read Scoble and he linked to her. Not by a technorati search on blogher, not by some other blog posts. (Robert has linked to more women in the last months than any other male blogger I read. Even though everybody likes to bash him for not doing enough on the women issues, I think he does quite an okay job to combine *real* value in his postings while linking to female bloggers.)

He is wrong when he says, be findable in Google and you will get invitations for speaking at conferences – that was probably correct back then in the days when he was searching. ;) Today I expect us to use our networks and especially post on our blogs. “Searching for expert in …” and you will get answers from your peers. “Hey, there is a conference about XXX and I would like some suggestions.” By mail, by comment, by trackback you will receive answers.

As for the list of women – there are two reasons why I would support such a list and probably put myself up also: First, not everybody with knowledge likes to speak in front of people. Having such a list would help to track down people who are willing to speak. And second, to stop this (as it seems) neverending cycle:

him, looking proud like a child: “Oh, look, a conference! See the speaker list! Great names on it!”

her: “WAAAAH! No women, too few women! Where are the women!”

him (looking puzzled because it was not intention but just the usual male one dimensional view on his world): “hm, I don’t know any / you might be right / well, you are not right but stop complaining – okay, okay I will look out for some”

her: “It’s easy! There are millions out there. You did not look hard enough!”

At which point the usual male will do as he is trained to do by his mother long ago
he: “Okay, tell me who I should put up?”
she: (usual ranting about discrimination, him being lazy, letting her do all the work, etc, etc).

So if we would have a list, the clueless male could at least go there and have a look.

Which, at that point will still bring the question, if she is up to the task. Or if her only qualification is being female … Yes, I know, that is the mean question, because of course, every women on the planet is just fantastic and always better than a male speaker!

Hint: I am a visitor of conferences, too. If you are uninspiring, dull and boring, it is not enough for me, that you are a women. Or a man.

Do I say by this, there are no interesting female speakers? No, absolutly not. There sure are. But if they are interesting, powerfull and smart, they usually do not only speak up, when they are on a conference. They do have an opinion, they do have an attitude – and they usually today have a blog. Where they perfectly well could place a link like: “will speak on conferences (about)”, right?

Let’s find a phrase we can bomb Google and Technorati with (like womanwillspeakfortravelexpenses) and simple men can again use Google to find us. ;)


7 Responses to “Why a “women who would speak at conferences”-list would have merrits”

  1. henriette says:

    very interesting Nic.. *s*

    I will be the first to sign up on “womenwillspeakfortravelexpenses”
    cool initiative.. keep them coming

    Henriette ( you know.. curly haired girl… reboot ?)

  2. Nicole Simon says:

    And what would you like to speak about, hm? ;) Having a list just for the European would also nice for reducing travelling costs.

    [Of course I know, I loved your hair :)))]

  3. Lloyd says:

    Hey, why not set up a page on thehughpage.com for this? It might get you started – and of course you can put as much detail as you like about what you like speaking about, where you can easily travel to, where you’d like to go etc. etc.

  4. Nicole Simon says:

    Yes :) After all, it is about knowledgable people ;)

  5. Lloyd says:

    OK, so now I see Mary Hodder got something else going as well:


  6. henriette says:

    well.. duuuh!.. networking and using new technology in networking societies..

    what would you speak about ?


  7. Nicole says:

    Oh there are many things one could talk about – Podcasting for example, blogging, women etc. ;) I will have to figure that out over the next weeks. :)