Why it is important to speak up
This week, there was a big hullabaloo over the upcoming Office 2.0 Conference. The short story: the conference was dominantly male speakers, only one woman. The organizers were initially unclear as to a) why this was a problem and b) why they should correct the situation. For the story, check out Shelley Powers, Jeneane Sessum, Elisa Camahort, Tara Hunt, the Head Lemur and Stowe Boyd.
I'm not going to go into a long analysis of the situation because these other bloggers have already done a superb job at explaining everything. The end result, at least from what I read this evening, was that more women are being added to the program. Thanks to some squeaky wheels, maybe we can put this one in the sort-of win column.
But here's what has to change. It shouldn't need squeaky wheels to understand, and point out, that it is a problem when a professional conference is pretty much all male speakers. Conference organizers should understand from the get-go that the conference needs to represent its audience, and unless the topic is living with penile implants or jock itch, you have to be living under a rock to not know that there are women in the audience. If you want to appeal to them, if you want to argue that your conference represents the topic, you have to include women. And if they don't come to you, you have to go find them.
Not to pick on anyone, but last spring I attended a conference with a panel about social media and PR comprised entirely of men. This in an industry that is woman-dominant (though certainly not woman-dominated, and if you want more about that, you'll probably get it here eventually). And the PRSA's fall conference is no better; the sessions are 50/50 but all the keynotes? Testosterone, baby.
It is not enough to say "we'll consider them if they put themselves forward." If you want your conference to matter, make it matter. Make it truly representative of the audience. Find the great woman keynoters. Invite interesting women to come to your conferences. Not sure they'll be great speakers? Put them on a panel with a kick-ass moderator. She or he will know how to bring the best out of the speakers. Need help with this? Call me. Call any of the folks who comment on this regularly (see above). We care tremendously about this issue. We will help you. And really, our bark is much worse than our bite :-)
In leaving a comment about this on Elisa's blog, I included the following quote which pretty much summarizes why I have been, and continue to be, so vocal on this subject.
"If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am not for others, what am I?
And if not now, when?"
Jewish scholar & theologian (30 BC - 9 AD)
Posted @ 11:09PM in Marketing
TrackBack URL for this entry:
The comments to this entry are closed.