Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Can men help women get on the program?

Chris Messina blogged last week to update a 2006 post he wrote, taking the tech industry to task for fielding major conferences with only white male speakers, and deploring the absence of women from the program, an issue I've written about here. After a little progress--one woman on the program of a major conference--he sums up his concerns this way:
The question is no longer “where are all the women?” — it’s why the hell aren’t white men making sure that women are up on stage telling their story and sharing the insights that they uniquely can provide!

Why should it only be women who raise their voices on this issue? This isn’t just “their” problem. This is all of our problem, and each of us has something to do about it, or knows someone who should be given an audience but has yet to be discovered.
Tech leader Susan Mernit blogged about Messina's post, and added:
...the challenge is for organizers to budget the time to jump out of their comfort zone when they plan their programs--and to believe it matters enough both to the quality of the experience--and the marketing--that they find, invite and include talented women.
I agree, though I'd still recommend that women put themselves forward as potential speakers at the same time. What do you think?

1 comment:

JoeinVegas said...

When a call for speakers goes out a lot of planning depends on who responds, and topics they want to present. A meeting planner can only reach out to people they know, and can depend on. Most places would be quite happy to have alternate presenters, I think it is more dependent on women (and minorities) putting themselves forward.