Self Promotion: Is this Really a Rant About Gender – Women Who Tech – #wwt

My notes from this session are really incomplete as I was really enjoying the conversation and it was more a discussion that wasn’t completely bullet-point compatible. There’s a lot of great thinkers that are really trying to uplevel the discussion about the disparity of men and women in tech and/or speaking engagements.

  • Allyson Kapin
  • Mary Hodder
  • Lynne D. Johnson
  • Kevin Marks
  • Clay Shirky

The session was inspired by Clay Shirky’s post – A Rant About Women

  • Clay: There is a supply side problem and a demand side problem.
    • You have to have a willingness to stand up and say “I can do this” and even to make unverifiable claims.
    • There’s a lot we can do in filtering, but even if we got all the filters we want, if there is a problem with the demand side, that imbalance is going to reflect itself in the environment.
  • Mary: People do have to go put themselves out there.
    • Issue of perfectionism with women is a problem.
    • Filters are the problem. If the filters are set up where the most aggressive people get the speaking posts, get the interview, etc. you’re most likely to get men. You’re not necessarily going to get the best people.
    • SxSW has shifted the filter. Once people have their panel selected, Hugh makes them go add women to their panel.
  • Lynne: First moderated a panel at SxSW on “Blogging while black”. A-List bloggers were mostly white and would add people to their blogrolls that were like them — white men.
    • Women are not raised to be as outspoken as men.
    • Women of color may be different. Lynne was raised to be the best and brightest.
  • Kevin: There is a huge supply problem in technology. Not enough women are coming in to tech.
    • Women in tech have been through huge barriers to get where they are.
  • Clay: Alien of extraordinary visas are one example of the demand side problem. Women are less willing to stand up and say that they have skills that aren’t duplicated anywhere else.
  • Mary: It is easier to ask your friends to speak at your conferences. But, we aren’t getting the right people that way.
  • Lots of discussion on the “fake it ’til you make it” strategy. Men are more likely to do that — especially in interviews and hiring process — vs. women.
  • Mary: Messages that we get as women growing up are important. Women as children and teenagers are often praised for looking good but not often for what they are doing.
  • Mary: Often have to look for speakers and/or employees in a different way. If you put out a post for “I want a kick ass engineer”, you’re likely to get a lot of men applying but not a lot of women. May need to reword job posting in a different way to appeal to women.
  • Mary: Not blaming men for lack of women at conferences – blaming conference organizers for not being more inclusive and way that they look for a diverse set of viewpoints.