Why Being Listed in 111 Women in Tech Speakers List is just the start
I'm so chuffed to have been listed in this 111 women in the UK who could speak at your tech event list" in August, but the real story is why is this list even needed.
I was talking to a journalist who knew that I "did Women in Tech stuff" and remembered our Social Media for Women Conference back in 2013, have we got any further in the WIT debate, or are we all talking and no do?
That's why SMFW13 conference was born - I was sick of lots of people saying and not doing and when I want to prove a point, I sort-of do it on an OTT scale!
I've been a "Women in Tech" since 2002, but I didn't really know about the movement, or campaigns till several years later. Sadly however, I haven't missed out on the derogatory comments, unconscious bias and plain outright sexism. As a young woman starting out in the media industry, it bothered me, comments hurt me and I got treated better working in an off licence! I look back and can understand why there are only 17% of tech specialists actively working in the UK are female.
So I had many conversations and debates with people to try and understand why this was a trend and how, we could support other women that wanted to be in tech, into tech sectors, and climb up the ladder to the C-Suite land.
I've always been keen to try and make a difference, rather than lip-service, so I first publicly talked about the #GeeksNotGender theme back in 2013 at a local culture social. After some great feedback, we (DigiEnable) decided to run a conference to prove a massive point.
One of the excuses I hear most often for not seeing diversity in conferences and talks, is that people "can't find women speakers" or others of diversity, but to be honest, this 111 list, proves that isn't the problem at all. So in my "PAP - proving a point" mode, I set about running a conference with a full female speakers and workshop leaders line-up. Not, just for the fact they're women, but because they are sh*t hot at what they do, and have great personalities to deliver the content in a great way. It was an awesome successful Social Media For Women Conference with participants from different sexes attend. (I actually believe female-only events don't solve the problem, but that's something for another time.)
So, when a group of us met up recently in Manchester to talk about what we could do about engaging more women in tech, it prompted me to write this blog on Women in Tech Speakers Directory list, to help share where women can go and sign up to speak, but also where people can seek out female (and diverse speakers).
So why do I think there is a lack of women in tech? Here's a by no means definite list of some issues to think about...
- Work-Life Balance and Working Hours Flexibility
- Working Environment
- Remote and location working flexibility
- Workplace and team ethos
- Recruitment process
- Conference, Call For Papers, and Call For Talks recruitment processes
- University and College links with real world skills and businesses
- Inspiring young people at school levels with digital, technology and other modern topics and ideas of real world jobs
- Alternative options for anyone any age, to learn digital and technology topics outside of formal education
There's lots to cover there, and not something we could do overnight, but the key here, that anyone of us can do, is small steps, everyday for making some sort of difference. It doesn't have to be that you become the next TEDx'er, but you could tell a young person about what tech jobs you know of, flag up when people use negative, sexist or derogatory comments, educate others on what technology does in the modern world, teach someone else some basic digital skills, or even show someone how to use their mobile phone! It could be that simple to start a rolling positive vibe towards a more diverse tech world.
What would you suggest? Tweet me @Tech_Geek_Girl