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Newsflash: There are more men than women speaking about tech

Guest post by Cathy Brooks, read her blog | follow her on Twitter

There are more men than women in the tech and new media sectors…

I know. Shocking.

Joking aside, I thought it was time to take a slightly different whack at the conversational kerfuffle that’s percolated yet again in recent weeks. Yes, that seemingly unsinkable subject – the lack of women on the tech industry speaking circuit.

So when Brian Solis graciously offered me the opportunity to guest post here and use this topic as my inaugural soapbox, I couldn’t say no. Well, I could have, but it would have been silly.

To set some context, let’s be clear. This debate is not a new one, though the flames have been fanned recently as you can read in this postor this oneor this one.

If you’re already up to speed on this story let’s wait here a second for the folks who went to peruse those links above.

Okay, everyone back?

Are we on the same page?

Good.

Now turn the page.

I began flipping forward to the next chapter last week when I reached out to Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media. He produces some of the top conferences in tech (which extends to vertical focus like government, healthcare and green/eco friendly) he also was directly involved in the most recent set of public discourse on this matter.

More than getting his take on the situation overall, I wanted to hear Tim’s thoughts on where the challenges can be overcome. During a phone chat Friday afternoon Tim agreed that the current dearth of female speakers overall needs to be addressed and he called on other conference organizers to do the same. “I think the talent bench is way deeper than any (directories or conference organizers) show. It’s time (for those of us producing conferences) to dig deeper.”

He also explained that it’s critical to remember that producing a conference is telling a story.

“It’s not just about finding fungible talent. When I’m trying to put a conference together. I’m trying to put together a story and I’m trying to find (qualified) people who are aligned with that story and are really able to drive the point home,” he said.

In other words, this isn’t about having a woman speak just for the sake of having a woman speak. That doesn’t do anyone any good. She must be qualified on the content and she must be able to articulate it. After all, if it’s a public speaking opportunity that whole speaking thing becomes pretty important.

I couldn’t agree more, and I will take it one step further. Beyond the need to ensure that the most qualified, well-versed women are chosen, it’s also critical to ensure that the right women are chosen for the right formats. As I detail in this post, some folks just aren’t cut out for some kinds of presentations.

Kara Swisher offered a more salty perspective – literal and figurative. As we finished up a Fort Funston beach romp with dogs and kids on Sunday afternoon, I mentioned this blog post and topic to her, and her perpetual intensity sparked. She emphasized that she and her irascible partner in crime Walt Mossberg spend considerable time ensuring the composition of their on-stage roster is as balanced as humanly possible. In the case of All Things Digital, where the same C-suite mandate O’Reilly faces with the Web 2.0 Summit comes into play, this becomes challenging as the ranks of available speaker candidates thins rapidly on the rise into the Fortune 500.

With the assumption that we’re talking about truly qualified, articulate, solid presenters, what’s next?

The fact that the issue is on the table again is good. The fact that there are new conversations happening to address the issue also is good, but talk is cheap. It’s time to take more bold action.

Like making a point to step up and be counted.

Like working together to appropriately support relevant, credible individuals.

Like turning to our male colleagues and ensure that they have our backs.

These are all great, socialized actions that will go towards chipping away at the institutionalized behavior to which we are all accustomed on this front.

What about something a bit more tactical? As Brian Solis and I discussed in Los Angeles during Twiistup6, what about creating a centralized, searchable resource through which organizers can find qualified, well-vetted female speakers and conference attendees can comment on performance, experience, and expertise?

After many conversations I keep coming around to the idea of a resource center that conferences organizers could use to source great speakers who happen to be female.

And of course any good idea worth having is likely to have other instances, as does this one. Several years ago Mary Hodder and some others launched a wiki on which they began a speakers list. Personally I think the list is a great start, but has some several limitations. For starters it’s too unwieldy, and that’s largely due to the fact that this list is not curated in any way. There’s no determining which speakers have more expertise, who has the best stage presence for a given format or, frankly, if they are as great presenting as they are on paper.

This is the problem Tim mentioned when we talked about the speaker database resources that currently exist. He noted that generally those lists are filled with people “who tend to heavily promote themselves.”

I get what Tim means. I’ve certainly been around my fair share of those sorts who spend so much time promoting themselves as experts of this, or gurus of that, I can’t help but wonder – when do they actually do any of the things about which they purport to have such expertise? Oh so many “pick me pick me” voices sound shrilly in my ears, or perhaps more accurate to say they ring hollow.

So do we need some resource lists for qualified female speakers? Yes. Should they be wholly open and just anyone can be on the list. I think not. Lest you think this is based in elitist or exclusionary principles … well, you’re right, they are.

I think there should be a barrier to entry. There should be qualifiers, because when it comes to public speaking, no matter how qualified someone may be on paper, their ability to translate that into a compelling discussion – whether as a panelist or on a keynote – may not be in sync.

Please also read: Building Bridges Between Knowledge and Aspiration.


Image Credit: Jeremy Ginsberg

98 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Newsflash: There are more men than women speaking about tech”

  1. Guest says:

    A useful tool that was created in the uk was http://www.geekspeakr.com although things like this exist, organizers of events are lazy and will only view or consider speaker submissions from those who they know and those who hear about the call for speakers.  A lot of the time this is based on past spekers and past recommendations.

    When you look further it’s all a case of what is simply easiest, quickest and least hassle…

  2. alfon says:

    but its fact men more interested about tech than woman.. men more think about logical then emotion

  3. PhilWolff says:

    Perhaps we could score conferences. The Gender Balance Index. Female speaker minutes / Total Speaker Minutes *10. She’s Geeky would get a 9 or 10. Some telecom events would score 0-1. Visible incentive to improve balance.
    However speaker affirmative action is besides the point.
    What can you do to improve the talent pool? To make it more diverse, more insightful, more articulate, more entertaining, more engaging, more prepared? What can you do to make the process of discovering and engaging the best talent cheaper, faster, more reliable, and better at aligning participants to an event’s agenda and to its publics?
    Gender in tech conferences is only a third-order symptom of gender issues related to hiring, self-selection in geek careers and in public speaking. Addressing gender balance in events doesn’t help with the root causes.

  4. Sean Percival says:

    Thanks for this Cathy, great post.

  5. Lisa Whelan says:

    Great post, Cathy. 

    I’d love to see someone sponsor a high-quality media and speakers training day targetting women in tech.  Half the battle in getting great speakers is finding people who are both comfortable in front of a crowd and know how to develop an interesting and lively presentation.  Learning how to develop compelling content and speak in front of a crowd usually only happens with practice and the right coaching.

    Thanks for sharing the Speakers Wiki… It’s a great resource.  I just added myself to the list. The wiki would be even better if it were easier to add, edit and search speakers. I can imagine Socialtext isn’t the easiest thing to use for those who don’t blog.  It would also be useful to have: a geography tag, a more robust calendar of speaking opportunities, and the ability to easily add, rate, and search speaker videos.

  6. patricia says:

    I see women speaking everywhere in a lot of places in tech. 

  7. nan says:

    As a female VP of a technology company, I am compelled to back any sane efforts to bring hard working women in technology to the forefront of the discussion. There is little debate that seeing successful, happy women in careers inspires girls. With the percentages of girls entering math. science and technology fields dropping, we need as much inspiration as possible.

    However, from Tim’s comments, it sounds like what is really needed is a centralized listing of  credible, interesting vetted speakers metatagged with their areas of expertise, who are interested in working the circuit  – regardless of gender. While you could certainly include gender as searchable metadata, why limit it to only women?  We have all witnessed the debacle of a bad speaker ( male or female) as well as the lack of women, let’s fix both problems at once- it is the more elegant solution 😉

    While you are certainly justified in limiting who will be in the respository, I would strongly recommend that you make comments and voting open to registered users, to get the wide audience viewpoint that a conference organzier is looking for. To avoid the limitations of the inbred network effect, you might also consider allowing submissions for onsideration which are then vetted by a panel of experts.

    I am very interested in following how this developslooking forward to more discussion in the future.

  8. Dave McClure says:

    sorry, i completely disagree with you on this issue… and with most of the people trying to “raise awareness” here.

    the fact of the matter is there AREN’T that many women in tech overall, or who are founders/CEOs of companies, or who want to speak on tech topics.  as a percentage of audience, i’m pretty confident the number is far below 30%, possibly even as low as 10%.

    is this heresy? is this a bad thing? is it damaging for women?

    No, No, and No.

    while we can and do need to support the growth & expansion of ALL types of diversity in tech (women, minorities, seniors, sexual orientation, etc etc), the notion that we are somehow guilty of not looking hard enough for talented women to step up and speak is not the core issue.  in fact, you could also argue that by encouraging possibly less-talented folks to step up to the mike that we are actually demeaning the pulpit, and creating less powerful role models for women who DO speak.

    while i think it’s important to do our best to find talented women speakers, the core issue is that WE SIMPLY NEED MORE WOMEN IN TECH.  how do we get this done?  we pull out our checkbooks. we choose women-run startups to get involved with. we ask other women founders to step up and be visible.

    it’s a basic numbers game.  and sure, more women speakers at conferences will help with creating role models, but we need to start with more education and funding for women in technology FIRST.  once there are more women in the field, there will be more women on the speaking circuit.

    focus on the problem, not the symptoms.

    the PROBLEM is we need more women in tech, more capital for women founders, more mentors & role models getting women into startups.  it’s not that we don’t have enough women on the speaking circuit.  that’s a symptom, not the core problem.

    ok, now go ahead and burn me at the stake.  i’m not afraid to be the heretic.  my mother was a single mom & entrepreneur, and i’m an investor in 3 women-run startups.  they’re awesome, however except for this particular description i would never describe them as women-run startups — they’re simply great startups who happen to be run by women.

  9. John Wilker says:

    As a tech conference organizer, I can’t say strongly enough that it’s not a lack of interest in women speakers, or even some sinister plot to hold women techies back. It’s a lack of women (intersted in speaking, or in general). At our events we try to (within reason) seek out women and even give presentations by women a bit higher priority when selecting topics. It’s a lack of women attending and submitting to speak that’s the problem.

    What organizer wouldn’t want a more balanced population at their event?

    I don’t blieve it’s the job of a conference organizer however, to seek out women to speak. Women are as welcome as men to submit topics.

  10. Tim O'Reilly says:

    One idea I suggested to Cathy that didn’t make it into her post is a YouTube channel. Those of us organizing conferences need to see people in action (or talk to them), not just see a name on a list.  I’d love to see a crowdsourced channel of great conference presentations.

    Of course, this doesn’t obviate the issue that we need to know “speaker about what?” There are amazing speakers on every topic, male or female, who aren’t right for a particular conference.  An event like TED, which has a broad mandate, is easy. A pure technical conference, or a vertical industry conference, is a challenge, because you have several filters that may be competing.

    One of the great resources we’ve been using to build a deeper roster of speakers is Ignite (http://ignite.oreilly.com).  This is an open-ended evening series of short presentations on any topic.  We organize some of them directly at O’Reilly, but many others are organized around the world by anyone who wants a great evening event where geeks can socialize. We encourage organizers to videotape the events; we post the best videos as part of the Ignite Show: http://ignite.oreilly.com/show/ This has been a great vehicle to find new talented and informative speakers, and I urge other conference organizers to use it as a resource.

    Re. my comment above about lists being filled with speakers who heavily promote themselves, my main point is that many of the people a conference organizer really wants to put on stage is not “the usual suspects” but someone great who’s not been heard from before.  And that may be someone who has their head down making an impact, and not spending time on the conference circuit.

    So when I said that we conference organizers need to dig deeper, I was thinking about taking the time to research people who aren’t already visible who have great things to say.

  11. Tim O'Reilly says:

    Dave, I hear you about the fact that there are more men in tech. But if we want more women in tech, as you say, one of the most important things we can do is to put more role models on stage.  It is easy just to accept the fact that there are more men in tech and take the first qualified male speaker who comes to mind.  After recent conversations with some of the women thinking hard about this issue, I realized how lazy that approach is. Yes, there are times when you have a particular speaker in mind – no one else will do as well to cover the topic you want to see covered.  But there are other times, when digging deeper until you find a woman or minority who can do justice to a topic will bring in great new voices, expand your network, and hopefully inspire a new generation of women in tech at the same time.

    Taking the extra time to research a topic deeply enough to find the hidden voices actually helps you put together a better lineup.

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  14. VM Brasseur says:

    Cathy, Tim, Dave, et alios have good points.  In fact I haven’t seen a single boneheaded comment yet on this post which is a testament to its readership.

    However what I also haven’t seen are any actionable suggested solutions.   Perhaps its because we haven’t really narrowed now the core problem…

    Everyone agrees that (a) there are few women in tech and therefore (logic!) (b) there are even fewer women writing/presenting about tech.  I posit that if we can fix (b) we’ll help fix (a).  So how can we better engage the women who ARE in tech to participate in the community, thereby presenting more role models?  Restated, how can a woman get a start on writing/presenting?

    Answer: the same way that men do.    As a woman in tech I’m here to tell you that it ain’t that easy to just get up on that pony and ride, but that doesn’t mean I should get a free pass to the merry-go-round.

    Contrary to some of the suggestions I’ve read here, I don’t believe that women need anything more than support and encouragement in order to start participating in the tech community.  We should not be afforded any advantages not also proferred to men.  We should not be placed on special speaker lists, nor given preferential treatment when determining writing requests or speaking engagements.  As with the other half of humanity, if women can’t walk the walk they should not talk the talk (at least not at a tech conference).

    So how to provide that support and encouragement to existing techie women?  Certainly not by gently berating their male counterparts, as <a href=”http://infotrope.net/”>Kirrily Robert</a> did in her <a href=”http://en.oreilly.com/oscon2009/public/schedule/detail/10173″>OSCON keynote</a> this year[1].  The men of Open Source, I’ve found, would gladly accept women into their ranks were they only to join.  Most of the women simply have other things they’d rather do (and that’s OK).

    Perhaps we should more strongly exhort the existing women techies to just stand up and have their say.  “C’mon, gals!  There’s a lot of you!  Speak your mind!  Be heard!  Represent!”  Well, that may work for some but many may react negatively to that sort of pressure.

    OK, so we can’t scold men[2] and we can’t exhort women.  What’s left?

    Continuing on the path we’re on.

    I’ve been in/around the tech industry for over 15 years now and I can’t begin to express the fantastic cultural strides I’ve seen it make in that time.  By and large the members of our subculture now welcome anyone who steps in and can hold his/her own.  This is a far cry from the white male-centric view it had when I first stumbled into this group.  Over all I’m pretty darn pleased with the progress which has been made.  It ain’t quick but it’s here to stay and it’s still moving in the right direction.

    For any society to make this much change in that short of a time is a very admirable thing.  Yes, it still has FAR to go but in this case do you really think you’ll be able to make a better difference via revolution than evolution?  I doubt it.  Revolution may form a schism and that doesn’t help anyone.

    So instead we should stay on our current path.  We should keep having discussions of this sort to help raise awareness in the community, thereby fostering acceptance and inclusion on a cultural level.  We should continue to embrace people of all genders should they choose to put themselves out there.  We should continue to support young people in their tech dabbling, being sure to advertise that an invite is open to all.

    —–
    [1] I don’t fault Kirrily on this.  Her audience was almost entirely male and the tone of her talk was pitched to help raise awareness within that specific audience.  That it rubbed me the wrong way merely shows that I wasn’t her target.  It took me a while to recognize that.

    [2] I do NOT believe there is any endemic intentional bias or discrimination against women in the tech community.  The geeks of today cannot be held accountable for the culture they (and the rest of society) inherited from their tech ancestors.  There aren’t many women in tech to help change that culture, so they also can’t be blamed for perpetuating it (momentum is a powerful thing).  It is what it is but that’s not what it has to be, if you catch my meaning.

  15. fee plumley says:

    I agree there are less women in tech, but I often know better female speakers than the males who do present. I think our problem is often this nonsensical celebrity focus – “x spoke here and here, so we simply must get them in!”. Hence loving the Ignite platform.
    Thanks for a great article & comments, fee (a female in tech).

  16. Guest says:

    Tim, I think you have some good suggestions.
    @LindaSherman
    Author: ItsDifferent4Girls.com

  17. Naren UBi says:

    Well, this is a bit shocking to me since this comes the western world. I used to think otherwise; from the conferences that I attended, I always used to see more women speakers, entrepreneurs talking a lot about new technology and stuff like that. So, what is actually the difference like? If it is huge, it’s of concern. Else, I think it’s only a matter of time when the marginal difference be bridged.

  18. Tessa Sterkenburg says:

    I run a speaker agency in the Netherlands that focuses on people who are experts in the field of new media, new technology and innovation, mostly representing dutch speakers. (Most probably!) because I am a woman..a question often asked is why I don’t have more women om my list of speakers, and I find it extremely difficult to answer that question.

    I represent people because of their interesting content – many people who run startups/small companies or work for themselves in tech are more aware of and have experience with the latest developments in tech and that knowledge can be transferred to the larger companies. That’s the space that I am in, so the last thing I want to do is represent people because of their appearance.

    I refuse to believe that women don’t have that content, but why are 99% of the people who want to be on my list men? Why is it so much more difficult to find those women? And from the women that contact me, why do most of them want to talk about “vague subjects” such as “how it is to be a woman in tech” (none of the men that contact me talk about how it is to be a man in tech), a subject that is never requested by my customers.

    Selecting speakers is difficult. Setting qualifiers is indeed necessary to go beyond the people who shout loudest. I look at area of expertise, experience, online presence, how often they are asked to perform at conferences, and check whether online video’s are available.

    The last couple of qualifiers don’t exactly help women at the moment.

  19. CoachDeb says:

    The only time it “Stands Out” when there are “more men than women” speakers on a particular conference/panel etc is when there are NO women – despite being able to rattle off known female experts on the subject matter being discussed. 

    If there are 100 men in tech to 10 women in tech – then it goes without mentioning that we will see more men in tech speaking. 

    But here are a few other problem with why we don’t see more women speaking on stage.

    1 – Women aren’t shouting from the rooftops that they’re qualified to do so. (They’re just bitching about it w/ their estrogen groups) 

    2 – Women aren’t talking to the right influencers in order to GET on stage at the right conferences. (As long as we hold “women only” or “women focused” conferences – we’ll be separating ourselves as “different” than men, and therefore not interacting with the men with the power and influence to get us on co-ed stages / conferences.) 

    3 – Women are turning DOWN opportunities to speak. Yes. They’re being Asked — but by their own choices, and reasons, and business goals, they’re saying NO to the leaders asking them to speak on stage in the area they’ve got expertise. 

    As much as I’d like to see more women rising up, owning their power, sharing their voices, I cannot MAKE them want something they don’t see as a priority. This is not a one time thing either – I’ve talked to more than a dozen women of influence who know their stuff – yet choose to stay off the speaking circuit because… well – to be quite frank – it ain’t easy to run all over the country speaking. Some see a greater ROI to doing teleclasses that bring in revenue from their own home office rather than speaking at some conference where they can’t pitch — just to “speak from stage and be seen”. 

    I for one am NOT one of those women. 
    I for one AM on the other hand one of the women who loves speaking from stage, sharing my expertise, and traveling all over sharing my latest book on social media (well at least I am now that I’m no longer living in Hawaii 🙂   😉

    But I’m not EVERY woman – and the fact of the matter is, there are more women saying NO than there are saying YES to the opportunities to make their voices heard & share their message.  
    So until then – men will continue to get the heat, for no fault of their own 🙁  Until we have more women who love traveling the speaking circuit gig and WANT the fame and influence that comes from getting their name in lights, this conversation will continue to take place. 

    I’m Just Sayin’
    @CoachDeb
    http://TribalSeduction.com

  20. Guest says:

    Great blog.  I think that this goes for many industries.  It is not that there is a lack of talented females doing work and writing…it is the ability to articulate and communicate in a huge capacity.  The Specific Chiropractic Center has several great female practitioners and they are looking to break loose on the speaking circuit in the health care industry.

  21. Cathy Brooks: public says:

    You raise some excellent points Tessa and while my research at this point is far from scientific in terms of a full data set, the patterns are emerging quite quickly … I’m penning a follow-up post this and will be hoping to take the conversation further … I hopey you’ll join in to help progress the discussion.

  22. Cathy Brooks: public says:

    I’d say that those of us who are engaged in this thread or indeed this dialgue at any level are the “preaching to the choir” element. And the points that you mentioned (as with the comments from Tessa below) dovetail perfectly to what I”m hearing. My hope is to take this conversation FORWARD. We all agree there are issues. We all even seem to agree on what those issues are.

    I, for one, am ready to stop talking and start fixing.

    What do you say? With me?

  23. Cathy Brooks: public says:

    Let’s hope so…

  24. Cathy Brooks: public says:

    Nothing like reading a comment that is a perfect set up to the follow-up post I”m penning tonight … This conversation *isn’t* new, and you’re right, there are some points on which we can all agree in terms of the issues.

    Time to stop talking and start fixing …

    Hope you’ll continue to take part in the dialogue and helping foster the change!

  25. Cathy Brooks: public says:

    Tim,

    I want to thank you again for taking the time to talk with me for this post and for your great comments …  The channel idea is one that didn’t make it into this piece mostly because it was starting to get long and I felt there were still a few baseline issues on which I wanted to ensure that I laid out … mostly to get everyone at least looking in the same song book if not at the same page.

    I’m penning a follow-up tonight that will (hopefully) take this discussion one step further (or more) down the path. Full resolution is still a while away, but we can make some serious inroads …

    Your offer to support the efforts to address this industry issue is greatly appreciated – and don’t worry, we’ll take you up on it 🙂

  26. Cathy Brooks: public says:

    John, I hear you. Having curated content for an array of tech events – the annual LeWeb conference among those – I know that you’re speaking truth when you say that women just tend to not submit … That’s part of the overarching institutional/systemic issue that will take more time to change. In the mean time, though, ensuring that conference producers are doing their best to ensure true diversity is key.

  27. Cathy Brooks: public says:

    Actually Krystyl I will partly agree and partly disagree … women aren’t given a chance to prove themselves, but they also are not wholly seizing the reins and grabbing chances. In the conversations I’ve had with conference organizers they say (without any exception) that as a rule most speaking abstracts are from men. They also say that when they do approach women to speak, that women will either decline or cancel in far greater numbers than men.

    There isn’t one issue or root cause here. There are several all balled up like so much yarn …

    Time to unravel. 🙂

  28. Cathy Brooks: public says:

    Burn you at the stake Dave? Never. And I can’t call you a heretic because the points you raise aren’t inaccurate. I think, however, that you are being a bit naive or perhaps overly optimistic that the dearth of speakers is directly due to the lower number of women who are in the business overall. Are there fewer women overall? Well, of COURSE there are … and in some sectors (e.g. chip stuff, deep networking, data centers) those numbers dwindle even farther.

    BUT – and I’ll use this past week’s Gnomedex as an example – there were FOUR women on the stage. FOUR. And considering the overall topic/theme/content, that is a DISGRACE. It was made even more embarrassing when one of the women – who is smart, articulate and a good speaker – was set up to fail, first by the place in the program she was put and second by the fact that clearly no one sorted the talk with her in advance because it was the wrong speech for this crowd.

    The result? The room emptied. Now *that* is not good for women either.

    Your point about making sure we have qualified women and your other point that we also attack the bigger problem of attracting women into the business overall  – I’m totally on board with you there.

    I would just like to suggest that perhaps the real answer lies between our perspectives, and that’s where we can all dig in and foster some change.

    Now if you are keen to be burned at the stake or put in the stockade or some such, we can perhaps arrange that for fun 🙂

  29. Cathy Brooks: public says:

    Well Nan, I’d love for you to message me directly so that we can ensure you are included … as a female VP in a tech company you are precisely the kind of person who seems missing on these stages.

    Your point about making sure there’s opportunity for feedback/input is a good one … and the idea of having it open so folks can submit to be considered … also good.

    This will be a work in progress and definitely something that requires many minds … will look forward to your continued input!

  30. Cathy Brooks: public says:

    Thank you for chiming in, Lisa.

    Truth is that wiki page is interesting but really in my opinion is not a great resource at all. It’s not vetted, it’s not curated, the information published there is very marketing centric and has no filter or qualifiers.

    I say this as someone who *also* is on the list.

    In terms of your training idea, I’d actually say the problem is a step before that. It’s not about getting women trained to speak, it’s about getting them trained to pitch themselves. Yes, it’s helpful to have speaking training of some sort. The best training for speaking, however, is DOING it … and the only way to do that is to get on stage … and that requires pitching yourself.

    Stay tuned for my follow-up post that talks about this 🙂

  31. Cathy Brooks: public says:

    Thanks, Sean!

  32. Cathy Brooks: public says:

    Hey Phil!

    I think your scoring idea is interseting but I think it needs some additional algorithms because of course She’s Geeky and BlogHer will be saturated with female speakers … this isn’t about women having special conferences and events at which they can rule the roster. This is about integration.

    Separate is not equal.

    🙂

  33. Cathy Brooks: public says:

    I’d get upset about that, but that would be emotional of me. 🙂

    Seriously, though, joking aside … there are definitely more men than women who seem to gravitate towards tech – this is part of the institutional issue we must address.

    I’m not sure, however, what your reference to emotion is about.

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  35. Mary Hodder says:

    Hi Cathy,
    Re the speaker’s wiki, yes.. it’s true that there isn’t a way to leave comments about how someone speaks other than to hit edit and add a comment.

    Tim’s idea of video is good but if video isn’t shot of a conference, that’s limiting.

    However, if you did make a system that accepted critiques, it would likely be spammed and people would get their friends to pile in and it would be gamed to be more about popularity than good speaking.

    The speaker’s wiki isn’t unwieldy if you use the tags. For example, need a speaker that is an expert in medicine? Look at the medicine tag:

    http://www.socialtext.net/speakers/index.cgi?action=category_display;category=medicine

    or the CEO tag:
    http://www.socialtext.net/speakers/index.cgi?action=category_display;category=CEO

    and on and on.

    It’s a great filter and usually gets about one page of results that then allow the conference organizer to sift through the short list. 

    There is also the search box.. which sifts quite nicely. I would never recommend that anyone just browse the entire list (waste of time most likely).

    I’ve also used it behind the scenes to send one or two people to a conference organizer. I do it a lot and it gives the organizer a chance to look through a bio and prior speaking engagements etc.

    While I don’t think it’s perfect, and it would be great to get more features and ways to help conference organizers, i do think that the fact that you and others can edit and add people is great.. as well as update something easily. For now it’s the only list out there that allows that kind of flexibility.

    mary

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