Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A familiar topic raises its head: women speakers

Lena West, a BlogHer Business programming committee member and guest-blogger on Yvonne Divita's Lipsticking blog, has written a piece about how she's tired of seeing the same old male speakers at every Web 2.0 event and on every speaking roster. Jeremiah Owyang (one of those faces she is tired of) responds.

I left a comment on Lena's post and a comment on Jeremiah's.

I also recently resurrected a bunch of my posts on this very subject.

People sometimes come to me for female speaker recommendations, which I'm always happy to give. After all, we have had over 350 women speakers at BlogHer events over the last 3-4 years.

But I'm more excited about an improvement we made to the way we display speakers on our new conference web site. Here's the speaker page that is just getting populated for BlogHer Business. After the conference is over, though, the best part comes. These speaker profiles will be part of a searchable database.

Because lists are great but clearly not enough. I've seen a lot of these lists in the last three years. People don't USE them. So there are two paths of action:

1. Create something people can use. We tried it after BlogHer '05 when Mary Hodder created the Speaker's Wiki, and we're trying it again wit this latest conference site architecture.

2. Take personal action. I don't pay my good money to attend conferences when I see a complete lack of diversity in the roster, and I email organizers and tell them so. I try to offer recommendations whenever I can. When I'm invited to speak, which does actually happen pretty often now, I try to see if they need more speakers and if I can recommend some.

What can you do?

You know, if you think it matters...

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An ages-old issue, Elisa. I have to wonder if it will ever be solved. Lena's post came from a previous post by Sheri McConnell of Nat'l Association of Wommen Writers. She wanted some input from some name brand MEN (like how I did that? You know, the Seth Godin's of the world?) for a webinar, but the men would not step up. The women did. Hmmm...
Oh my, it does feel like we've been pushing this rock uphill forever.

I agree -- vote with your feet, don't go to conferences without diversity and tell the organizers why.
I agree Elisa and think our conference has a record to be proud of 8).

Blog on!
Rick Calvert
CEO & Co-founder
BlogWorld & New Media Expo
I am blogging about this issue with a series on female heroes:
regards, Simone Brummelhuis
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