I’m a woman. (SHOCKER!) I secured my very first “big girl” speaking engagement a few months back, and I’m quite delighted to say the least. (I’ll be speaking on a panel at BlogWorld and New Media Expo 2010.)
At BWE I get to “hang with the big boys” as some would call it, like Darren Rowse, Brian Clark, Patrick O’Keefe, Jeremy Wright, and Chris Garrett among others. Blog World is, for me, the highlight of my year anyway because I’m lucky enough to call all of these men friends, and I get to spend a few days hanging out with them in person. Speaking or no.
But something disheartens me more and more each year, and it’s the wave of complaints that start surfacing on the web about the lack of women speakers at huge events like these. It’s everywhere, “Why aren’t there more women?” (Sidenote: This topic has been in the news recently too, discussing how women are still making 70% of what men make, doing the same job. My thoughts on this later…)
Remember, as I told you before and in case you forgot, I’m a woman.
Sure, I’m not doing a big, fancy keynote. (My brain silently mutters in a super slow and sexy voice, “yet…”) But there are three women involved with keynotes this year (Susan Bratton of Personal Life Media, Sonia Simone and Cali Lewis) and along with me being one of the lucky ladies who snagged herself a glorious hour, are about a bajillion other super cool ladies I happen to know (see for yourself). A few years ago, there were maybe 20 women who could’ve had something to say. Now? There are hundreds, if not thousands.
MY next step? Snagging a glorious hour all to myself.
Next step after that? Snagging a couple glorious hours all to myself. Maybe even at multiple events! *oooh, ahhh!*
After that, someday? Keynote. Panel or not, keynote.
*sigh* I know I’m not going to be popular with women for this next statement, but here goes…
Stop fucking whining, already! Don’t complain, compare, or judge. DO something.
You want to see more women in tech speaking at industry event keynotes? Get involved. Make suggestions to the event directors, explain why you (or whoever) would be a great fit for that event. Submit speaker proposals! The internet is a huge place, and despite thousands and thousands of people knowing who I am, I still had to stand in the virtual line and submit an application to speak just like everyone else… even some of “the big boys”. And guess what? Apparently, that helped me secure the slot… go figure!
I’m so sick and tired of the “we’re no further ahead than we were in the 60’s” and the “not only are there only 3 women, they’re all white” and the “but we’re mommies and wives and we don’t have time to ______”. Sick of it.
People complain, but here’s my take: I’m going to do my shit for me, NOT because I’m a woman… and you should too. So what can you do TODAY to further you? Because complaining isn’t going to change anything. You know what will change things? MORE successful women in tech actually putting themselves out there. Get off your duff and be bold and brave enough to lay it on the line, dammit!
A dear friend and client of mine in this industry has fought her way to where she is now, and people still don’t always know who she is or how hard she’s worked, much less what an amazing woman she is. Another friend left a super six-figure career in Silicon Valley to get out of the war, and still isn’t recognized for all she does. For every female friend of mine like that, there are at least a dozen men in the same boat. Truth be told? I know more men in this industry than I do women, and that’s because there are more men in this industry busting their (pun intended) balls to GET known. By me, in fact! Go figure that one out!
So to avoid driving myself into a lunatic state of mind over this, I’m just going to say it this way, to all my girls out there who want “better female representation” in tech:
Stop being so conservative with yourself and jaded with the world, and do something to make yourself or another woman you admire, known. Kick her ass (or your own) into gear if you have to, rather than complain over mimosas about how sexist the industry is.
P.S. For what it’s worth, I think women in the military should have to do “man-style” pushups and that if you wanted to be treated as an equal you need to behave like one. We women kick complete ass at everything we do, and sometimes even moreso than our male equivalents. But if you don’t stop bitching and start proving yourself and showing yourself, no one’s ever going to know. They’re just going to lump you in with the yentas and move on to the next person.
P.P.S. I shared this post before I scheduled it for publishing with one of the aforementioned lady friends. You won’t believe what she told me… She said that she was talking to a male conference director not long ago and he had been so excited that he was able to present a near 50/50 split of male and female speakers for his event. But a week before the conference? Almost ALL of the women bailed out. So there he was, left with half a conference, and no women. I dare you to sit back and analyze why they all bailed. I’m willing to bet that most of them did so out of fear of some kind.
P.P.P.S. The panel I’m doing with Chris, Patrick, and Jeremy wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t taken a deep breath and asked these guys if they liked my idea enough to join me on a panel. They all agreed, I wrote and submitted the proposal, and it was accepted. My idea. My organization skills. My taking the initiative to leap into this feet first and submit the idea. I’m honored to know such wonderful men in the industry, who have faith in me and believe in my ideas enough to stand with me and present them to the masses. But it never would’ve happened this way if I didn’t put myself on the line to make the effort.