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Sunday, February 25, 2007

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muse

Where are those "girl geek" dinners? I must be missing something...

Nicole Simon

Having done both mixed as well as women only courses on using the net - there is a difference in how questions are ask and how behaviour shows. And I am sure that this also had to do with the fact that I am female - a male instructor would have had different reactions.

Seing how many clever women pop up at girl geek dinners and at blogher is astonishing - but they do not come to other events as much as they do to such events. And the conversations I had at blogher where different than my usual tech surrounding, the things I was asked when I was on the expert table for podcasting where different and the things those women where interested in where also different to what I experience at the usual geek conversations.

Having more females popping up may not be your cup of tee because you yes you reader of this comment now think it should be something else, but for some this is an issue. To know more female guest will be there so you are not the freak.

In my case, I still can take it with a lot of amusement how limited (yes limited) the views of oh so many companies and people are in the Valley when it comes to the markets outside of the States. How much they are missing out when they think they know about 'the world'.

I personally do not care about how diverse in gay or not something is or coloured or not - but I do care about the international aspect, far more than I do about the female thing.

As said, that may not be your perspective, but it is my. Which is why I would encourage you to take a hop over to some of the bigger European or even Asian conferences and camps to get out of your comfort zone, out of your own language as well (no, London does not count as going outside. First it is mainly English and second ... well, it is a funny island).

So why care?
For myself, "this web 2.0" stuff describes one of the biggest changes in the way humans work / live / interact together - ever. And this is not something which is just happening in the States, and not something which is just happening by some white older guys.

Different than times before those old boys clubs are giving tools in the hands of others which suddenly are able to use them. Remember the old ladys exchanging patterns? This is the start.

Question is if the people not going for more diversity as in openess of minds and thinking will be around for a very long time. I do not think so.

Damon Billian

Hi Dave,

Maybe it isn't all for women...but all of the speakers are;-)

When I look at the problem, one I see as being pretty real, I would say that:

1. Try to get a group of people (men AND women) together to talk about the issue.
2. Talk about possible solutions.
3. Work to see what can be done to improve the ratios.

It would probably make more sense if I said it verbally...hard to convey what I want to say via a post w/o coming across as a possible a**.

Dave

BlogHer isn't just for women, but anyway my point was that Angie's response wasn't to complain but rather to do something about the situation... ie, create a conference and/or create more speaking opps for women.

that's a great attitude :)

Damon Billian

Hi Dave,

Hmmm...I would kind of disagree with a Business Summit (BlogHer, for example) that is either 100% men or 100% women. If the whole issue is diversity, neither situation addresses the problem. If women want to be understood by men in the business world, or vice versa, my take is that it would be in the best interest(s) off all to be inclusive to everybody.

Dave

... and kudos to you Angie, for highlighting the best answer to the situation: being the change you want to see in the world.

imho, conferences & events like BlogHer and Women 2.0 are the best response to the situation :)

Damon Billian

"It seems like a series of unfortunate events, that there are more men in tech and this leads to more men organizing conferences with their male friends and coworkers."

I think networking & knowing people is what skews the male:female ration more than intentional harm. At the same time, I really hope that we can all move past looking at people by their physical characteristics (male, female, race, etc.) because all these things do is make us realize that we're different & people tend to create groups that isolate themselves from other groups.

Note: I realize that Dave & I are saying things from a male perspective. But I also hope it comes across that I would personally like to see us focus on the real qualities of a person presenting, not their physical makeup when it comes to such things as the number of speakers at a conference.

Angie Chang

In response to the first comment to this post, I'm not a fan of coddling either. I believe in being supportive, I believe in challenging the status quo, I believe in pushing for what I think is right -- and that is, if half of the world is female and there is a dearth of women speakers AND ROLE MODELS in tech, by all means, let's highlight this and ASK ALOUD WHY ARE THERE NOT MORE WOMEN SPEAKERS?

It seems like a series of unfortunate events, that there are more men in tech and this leads to more men organizing conferences with their male friends and coworkers. Which makes me praise and love the women who succeed in tech and put them on a pedastal ALL THE MORE. Not because they're women, but because they're women and smart and successful (and sexy, like Grey's Anatomy).

What's not to love and promote?

~ang*e

Women 2.0 founder
www.women2.org

Dave

>>This is a complex issue, Dave. More complex than you or Brian or Tantek or Eric or anyone is making it out to be.

respectfully speaking Tara, i never said it was simple... that's why i wrote a really long post about the subject and linked to multiple perspectives (including Anil's & Kottke's, along with Eric's & Brian's).

i just disagree with you.

and yes, actually -- i'd say you probably do need to check your conscience at the door if you're the only woman speaker at FOWA. that's a dramatically different situation than most of the other conferences where the gender representation is around 15-25%. while you could accuse all of us legitimately of not trying harder, i'd say you'd be equally subject to criticism (given your stance on the issue) for participating in an event that has less than 5% women.

French revolution not withstanding, change begins at home... or in this case, London.

Damon Billian

Hi Tara,

Diversity is obviously important. But should people scream if the statistics don't match the demographics of the USA? Like Dave, I feel that racial equality (I hate the term race) is far more important. If you folks wanted to have equal representation for everything, it would have to fall like this:

51% Women (approx statistics for the USA)
49% Men
(Also approximate)
70% Caucasian
12% African-American
14% Hispanic
4% Asian-American
etc. etc.

How do you address a situation like below? How is this acceptable?

BlogHer Business '07
March 22-23, 2007
43 women, 0 men. 100% women speakers.

Tara Hunt

This is a complex issue, Dave. More complex than you or Brian or Tantek or Eric or anyone is making it out to be. It is everyone's issue and a 'meritocracy' ain't gonna cut it. That is a pretty narrow world view perspective. If it worked, BarCamp would be teeming with women and it isn't. The problem is associated with women, with history, with public perception, with conference organizers, with conference goers, with sponsors, with just about everyone.

We've been talking alot on the geeky women list about us starting to put ourselves in positions where we are uncomfortable. I know everytime I step out on that stage, I feel like I could faint out of fright. It isn't easy to face a crowd, many of them 'unconvinced' and ready to blog about you screwing up (and they frequently do). It's hard. And I'm sure other professions are as unforgiving, but with the gender gap, I often feel like there is even more pressure on me to be even better since I somehow represent my sex being the only female speaker in many cases.

But yes, diversity means more than sex and more than race, it definitely means a variety of perspectives. We're in Paris right now and talking to some researchers here who are looking at statistical data from virtual communities and comparing it with many eons of historical data from public movements. It's flooring. Is the French Revolution going to be compared to MySpace at any conference anytime soon? Probably not (although I'm asking them to speak at the Web2Open). The wealth of perspectives out there can really inform us in what we are all doing.

I think, though, that a 'feminine' perspective - and that comes from men, women, people of all races and countries - is probably what is underpinning some of this. Especially now, when the tides are changing and community and relationships and shifting values are so prevalent in the discourse. The meritocracies and code and efficiency and monetization are still there, but have to be balanced with the softer side of business.

Anil Dash's post on this stuff is awesome.

Damon Billian

"Now there's a challenge to diversity worth raising hell about."

One of the more challenging things in the USA is the battle of meritocracy vs. equal representation by gender or race (My personal thoughts: I don't care who you are as long as you do your job right & treat other people well).

The unfortunate thing about our relatively PC world is that folks accuse you of being "sexist" or "racist" if there isn't statistical equality - which I may note is based on physical characteristics - over who is the best person for the job. I think the real challenge would be for us to get over how different we look (physical) vs. what we do on a daily basis.

Note: I took courses in Sociology and Intercultural Communications. I personally felt that most of the classes highlighted the differences between "whites" and "minority" groups, something that only separated folks for more so than trying to find common ground across all cultures/ethnic groups/gender groups (I use quotes because I hate those terms).

drsharna

The "diversity issue" appears to be reaching critical mass. How far to the ridiculous do we have to go in attempting to placate everyone? Despite my extreme minority status as a left-handed genius female (around one tenth of one percent of the general population), I've never expected accommodation - although making the "bright" knob on the TV work the way I need it to would be a great start. "Adapt and overcome," is how I live and that mantra has gotten me a lot farther in life than coddling ever would. What's so wrong with choosing the right person for the job, regardless of their group status? People should just get over themselves, but then again what do I know?

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