Sunday, May 24, 2009

Quick thought: How can there be six conferences about Twitter? And as always...where are the women?

I read Leena Rao's post on TechCrunch about Six small conferences about Twitter, first with some amazement, and then with a feeling of familiarity.

Amazement because: I too find it ironic to have so much content swirling around about an application built (and widely adopted) based on the concept of brevity

Familiarity because: Wouldn't you just know that every speaker Leena calls out in her post is a man? Surely, that can't be, I thought. And it wasn't when I actually went to each site and review their speaker pages and did the math. But the ratio wasn't great. Less than 30% women across all six conferences...and that was mostly on the backs of one or two of the events that had pretty good ratios.

My experience of twitter is so different than that ratio reflects. Much as my experience of the blogosphere was so different than such things as speaker rosters and "top blogger" lists reflected 4 years ago when we started BlogHer.

My twittersphere is dominated by women. The power players in my twittersphere are women.

And dare I say that the people actually creating interesting *content* in my twittersphere are women. Having robust debates. Sharing wry observations. Egging their followers on to action.

I follow all the same "big guns" as anyone else, and what I often get from them are a bunch of links. At best, signpost links to interesting stuff other people are doing or talking about. That's a time-honored social media segment...the signpost blogger, the signpost twitterer. Robert Scoble. Guy Kawasaki. but often, just self-promotional links. Certainly we post a lot of links in Twitter via our @BlogHer account. We also do a lot of direct customer support via that account.

I just hope that while all these conferences are talking about Twitter, the potential traffic driver and marketing tool, they also give it its due as a community-builder, as a relationship-enhancer, as a conversation-driver, as a social-change-agent, as a window-to-my-most-ephemeral-but-therefore-most-uniquely-me-thoughtsand as a lot of other hyphenates that aren't really about how many followers you have or how many referrers you get.

In my corner of the twittersphere, enriched by the heavy adoption of women bloggers (some stats on that cross-usage are in our 2009 Women and Social Media Study, in case you have not checked it out yet) Twitter is all of that. And I think it's noteworthy. Conversation-worthy. Perhaps even conference-session-worthy.

But I'm still amazed that it's six-conferences-worthy. Call me old-skool, we're sticking with a couple of sessions on Twitter and similar apps at BlogHer, not even an entire track!

Practically Luddites!

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As a man, I share your thoughts here. I wouldn't say women dominate my Twitter experience (it's 50%/50% for me) but they certainly makes it more innovative. It seems a natural for them.
I wish they would go to these events more. The last one in New York was a blast for me. Women speakers just innovated so much and show that they master the medium. I felt I was truly learning from them. It was not about methods but more on how can you dance on this medium.
I don't know why women are so good at it but when it comes to attend a professional event, they don't go. Is it a fear to be judged or a lack of interest? Something else? I don't get it!
Shall they attend, they would be flaggerbasted. The Twitter crowd is energetic, warm and very knowledgeable. It would benefit from there presence.
"Is it a fear to be judged or a lack of interest? Something else? I don't get it!"

It's always the first reaction to wonder what's wrong with the women who don't show up. And yes, there may be internal reasons...women have to provide the supply in this supply/demand world.

BUT, let's also ask about the environment and what's wrong with it.

How about this: When a woman checks out an event and sees 90% male speakers...especially around areas of interest where she knows there are many women experts...did you ever think that maybe she thinks:

1. I'm not giving my hard-earned money to an event that couldn't bother to find more than a woman or two to represent. Lazy organizers? Boring event. (That would be me, BTW.)

2. I am not welcome or wanted at this event. They are happy to have one homogenous viewpoint represented, even though my experience shows there are numerous, diverse viewpoints that could and should be there.

See what I mean?
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