Yesterday, another Women in Technology conference got forwarded around and looking at the agenda, I snapped. I asked to not see any more goddamn WiT conferences.
I’m really fed up with women talking about being in tech. I don’t perceive any value in attending a conference dedicated to that. I want to see more women talking about doing tech.
I know we don’t work in a perfect environment and I have some strong, probably controversial, views about it that I only tend to discuss in the safe space known as the pub; but for me the biggest thing we can do to change the industry is to be actively changing opinions on the ground. If you’re good at your job, show that you’re good at your job. Equal rights are much easier to maintain/assert when equal skill is obvious.
What’s really frustrating for me is how much lower the percentage of women in tech who present is compared to that of men in tech. We need to change that!
As an attendee, speaker, user group leader, & a conference organiser, I want to see more female presenters. I want to have more women speaking at my stuff but if you won’t submit a session how can I pick you?
On the choice of topic, I always recommend speakers start off with intros/100 level material. There’s three reasons for this: 1) it forces speakers to think harder about pitching at the right level, 2) it’s less intimidating to teach to a room full of newbs, and 3) not enough people do beginner topics. I’m a big fan of soft skills talks and have dedicated whole tracks to them in the past but it isn’t the way to assert you’re good at your job, and I can sympathise with the infamous anonymous user group leader who got flamed for saying he didn’t want women speakers because his group is only interested in tech talks. Don’t be afraid to tackle a tech talk first – remember you’re good at what you do, of course you can talk about it.
So this is my frustrated call to action for any women out there who sees this rant. Let’s focus less on women in technology and more on women doing technology! I will happily mentor anyone (male or female) who wants to get started in presenting so take me up on my offer and start changing hearts and minds.
Please note that these views are entirely my own, not my employer’s, and all the rest of that usual disclaimer stuff. This is the first time I’ve stuck my head over the parapet on this topic and I expect flak, but please try to stay polite!