by Guest Blogger, Lena West, Chief of Social Media Strategy at xynoMedia
You might know that I'm a big fan of Judge Judy. We share a "tell it like it is" style. One thing that Judge Judy says that I think is so true is, "Don't make it up as you go along. If it doesn't sound true, it's probably not." And, I have to say that somebody's lying.
On this blog, we've talked a lot about getting more women speakers at technology (particularly social media) events. And, recently, I was invited to attend an event where the entire panel was male. The conference coordinators mentioned in the invite that there were other speakers that we yet to be announced. I hit the reply button and said, "Here's hoping that at least one of the other speakers 'to be announced' is a woman."
To which the conference organizer replied:
"In terms of this particular session, the goal was to have senior, decision makers at browser and related companies, and in standards bodies. We did have one woman from a browser team lined up, who sadly cancelled [sic] But the truth is, in these roles, women are few and far between."
I don't know about you, but if I had a nickle for every time I heard, "We had a woman on the program, but she canceled." I would be writing this from my very own Airbus A380.
Could ALL these women speakers be canceling? I know cancellations happen. I myself had to cancel one of the first speaking invites I received from that popular blog post (extended to me by Jeremiah Owyang). Due to an inner ear infection, I could not fly.
These conference coordinators usually then go on to cite statistics about how the numbers of women who are entering the tech industry have declined. Ummm, let me just blow that excuse out of the water right now. Chances are, if you're speaking at a conference, you're not just graduating from school. You've got some time and experience under your belt.
And, anyway, the whole "women are few and far between" is a load of crappola. So, I replied to said conference organizer, "The coffers over at O'Reilly Publishing are replete with high-tech women. As is the membership at the Grace Hopper Conference/Anita Borg Institute. And, the membership of NCWIT (full disclosure: I'm on the Entrepreneurial Alliance @ NCWIT).
The truth, as I see it, is that people simply don't try hard enough to find women speakers. And, if they had more than ONE woman on the speaker line up, they wouldn't have to worry if one woman canceled!