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Where Are Women Speakers at Conferences? Do Something.

Posted on the 24 May 2011 by Alizasherman @alizasherman

Expo Today, Edward Boches posted the question "Where are the women?" and he poses some specific questions about why many panels and presentations at conferences are made up of mostly white males:

So what’s going on?  Are we witnessing an outright prejudice on the part of event organizers and award shows? Do we simply perpetuate the problem when men invite men who invite more men?

Or is it just the natural outcome of inviting whoever is top of mind when we make lists of leading talent, selecting the people we already know and with whom we’re comfortable? 

Read more of Edward's post.

What IS going on? For every conference that consciously and conscientiously looks to bring more women speakers into their event (and hopefully more ethnic diversity, too) like Blogworld Expo, there are many others that say "well we tried to book some women speakers but just couldn't FIND them." And still others that respond to this question with, "Huh?"

As a woman speaker who used to be on the tech speaking circuit in the 90s, I find it to be quite a struggle these days to get to speak at conferences in my industry for a myriad of reasons. My appearances this year at conferences are the culmination of almost three years of pitching and building relationships.

If the issues are related to the conferences, I ask questions of the organizers and learn how to pitch better speaking topics in more effective ways. I also offer to introduce them to my network of amazing women speakers (see Chain of Daisies) because there ARE great women speakers who just need an intro.

But then there are those internal issues - the things in my own life, in my own head that keep me from "going for it." I've summarized 5 things that keep us from pitching to speak at major tech, business and venture conferences and 5 things we can do to overcome those things, and I'll be presenting these along with Jill Foster of Live Your Talk at Blogworld Expo on Thursday, May 26 at 9am.

After this workshop, attendees will walk out with a draft of their awesome pitch for Blogworld Expo LA or a conference of their choosing. Here's the session description (yes, men can attend):

Speak Up: Empowering Women to Find Their Voices

Despite all of our best efforts, there is still a dearth of female speakers at business, tech and venture conferences, particularly keynoters. But we can all do something about this imbalance, including women themselves. This workshop is a dynamic, interactive session about overcoming fear in public speaking and taking deliberate steps to craft speaking proposals.

Everyone weighs in about the issue of the lack of women speakers at conferences. I just say: "If a problem exists, find ways to fix it." Please support our workshop by sharing this post and information with anyone you know who is at Blogworld Expo. We appreciate your support! Let's DO something.

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