tech speakers diverse female speaker womens industry

techsuch May 9, 2021 0 Comments

Gender gap in the tech industry​The dearth of female speakers at tech conferences is a symptom of theindustry’s gender gap. Awareness and a bit of extra effort may go a long waytoward alleviating the shortfall.In 2017, a tech company product manager began tweeting about nearly emptywomen’s restrooms at big tech conferences.1 When these humorous observationswent viral, her company was inspired to study women’s representation andexperiences at these events. The company’s audit of speaker lineups from major2016–18 US technology conferences revealed that, on average, only 27 percentof keynote or standalone speakers were female—on par with women’srepresentation in American tech jobs but far from their portion of thenational labor force (see figure).2Male-dominated stage lineups are a global phenomenon: Event software companyBizzabo used facial analytics software to scan 60,000 speaker images fromthousands of professional events in 23 countries over five years, deducingthat 78 percent of tech event speakers are male.3 And a survey of 500 women inthe United States and United Kingdom who have attended tech conferencesrevealed that 70 percent of panelists reported being the “lone woman.”4In recent years, critics have reproached tech conference organizers forfailing to book any female keynote speakers or for having all-male panels(even when discussing, of all things, gender equality).5 However, a shift isoccurring, and many prominent tech conferences are diversifying their speakerlineups. The Consumer Electronics Show won praise this year for featuring fourfemale speakers (out of nine) on its keynote stage.6How much female representation is enough? Some have pointed out that when atech conference speaker lineup is one-quarter female, it mirrors therepresentation of women in tech positions. But that highlights a morefundamental issue: Should the industry be satisfied with women’s share of techpositions—and speaking roles—at just 25 percent?With research showing that diverse teams perform better and are moreinnovative, leaders across industries are recognizing that a diverse workforceis, as advocates have long suggested, good for business.7 As the tech industryseeks to shape the future, it is aiming to be more representative of thatfuture. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has explained, “A diverse mix of voices leadsto better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.”8That sentiment applies equally well to tech conferences, which represent aconversation among leaders and practitioners about what’s important for theindustry, now and in the future. Bringing speakers with a wider range ofperspectives and ideas onto the stage—and more diverse participants into theaudience—can be good for creatively driving the conversation and advancing theindustry. Moreover, ensuring more female researchers and leaders on stage cangive them greater visibility as role models—which may help move the needle onwomen’s overall tech industry representation.There are steps that conference organizers, participating companies, andpotential speakers can take to help make tech events more diverse:9 * Consider drafting and posting diversity guidelines or policies for events your organization participates in or runs.10 * Encourage speakers from diverse backgrounds to apply for speaking opportunities. Consider ways your company can support and mentor new speakers on writing proposals, crafting presentations, and presenting. * Commit to creating more diverse speaker lineups. Rather than inviting the same luminaries year after year, look for upcoming stars—perhaps at a level below where you ordinarily look. Consider highlighting diversity guidelines in your calls for proposals/speakers, asking speakers for recommendations of additional experts from underrepresented groups, using professional networking sites to seek out novel speakers, consulting databases of experts/speakers,11 and reviewing guides for making events more inclusive.12 * If you’re a frequent speaker, consider establishing a policy on whether you’ll take part only in diverse panels and events. The director of the National Institutes of Health has set one notable example with his plea for an end to all-male panels.13Gender gap in the tech industry​The dearth of female speakers at tech conferences is a symptom of theindustry’s gender gap. Awareness and a bit of extra effort may go a long waytoward alleviating the shortfall.In 2017, a tech company product manager began tweeting about nearly emptywomen’s restrooms at big tech conferences.1 When these humorous observationswent viral, her company was inspired to study women’s representation andexperiences at these events. The company’s audit of speaker lineups from major2016–18 US technology conferences revealed that, on average, only 27 percentof keynote or standalone speakers were female—on par with women’srepresentation in American tech jobs but far from their portion of thenational labor force (see figure).2Male-dominated stage lineups are a global phenomenon: Event software companyBizzabo used facial analytics software to scan 60,000 speaker images fromthousands of professional events in 23 countries over five years, deducingthat 78 percent of tech event speakers are male.3 And a survey of 500 women inthe United States and United Kingdom who have attended tech conferencesrevealed that 70 percent of panelists reported being the “lone woman.”4In recent years, critics have reproached tech conference organizers forfailing to book any female keynote speakers or for having all-male panels(even when discussing, of all things, gender equality).5 However, a shift isoccurring, and many prominent tech conferences are diversifying their speakerlineups. The Consumer Electronics Show won praise this year for featuring fourfemale speakers (out of nine) on its keynote stage.6How much female representation is enough? Some have pointed out that when atech conference speaker lineup is one-quarter female, it mirrors therepresentation of women in tech positions. But that highlights a morefundamental issue: Should the industry be satisfied with women’s share of techpositions—and speaking roles—at just 25 percent?With research showing that diverse teams perform better and are moreinnovative, leaders across industries are recognizing that a diverse workforceis, as advocates have long suggested, good for business.7 As the tech industryseeks to shape the future, it is aiming to be more representative of thatfuture. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has explained, “A diverse mix of voices leadsto better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.”8That sentiment applies equally well to tech conferences, which represent aconversation among leaders and practitioners about what’s important for theindustry, now and in the future. Bringing speakers with a wider range ofperspectives and ideas onto the stage—and more diverse participants into theaudience—can be good for creatively driving the conversation and advancing theindustry. Moreover, ensuring more female researchers and leaders on stage cangive them greater visibility as role models—which may help move the needle onwomen’s overall tech industry representation.There are steps that conference organizers, participating companies, andpotential speakers can take to help make tech events more diverse:9 * Consider drafting and posting diversity guidelines or policies for events your organization participates in or runs.10 * Encourage speakers from diverse backgrounds to apply for speaking opportunities. Consider ways your company can support and mentor new speakers on writing proposals, crafting presentations, and presenting. * Commit to creating more diverse speaker lineups. Rather than inviting the same luminaries year after year, look for upcoming stars—perhaps at a level below where you ordinarily look. Consider highlighting diversity guidelines in your calls for proposals/speakers, asking speakers for recommendations of additional experts from underrepresented groups, using professional networking sites to seek out novel speakers, consulting databases of experts/speakers,11 and reviewing guides for making events more inclusive.12 * If you’re a frequent speaker, consider establishing a policy on whether you’ll take part only in diverse panels and events. The director of the National Institutes of Health has set one notable example with his plea for an end to all-male panels.13

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