1. A divide can never be bridged with only one side in attendance. Holding female-only events does not integrate females into a male-dominated community. Segregation highlights difference, not similarity.

    Sexism occurs on both sides of the fence, but there is no excuse for the judging of a person based on their gender.

    How about an event with equal numbers of each?

  2. Yeah that’s the aim. Events with equal numbers of each. I complain at being one of the only female speakers at events and the guys complain that there are no women who put their names forward.

    So WWWWomen is to provide a space for Web 2.0 women to get up and practice talking about their projects – and that will stop the comments such as the one on the podcast (on the link to the original WWWWomen post) that there are NO women in Web 2.0.

    I have no issue with guys being there, but this is not a competitor to WebJam (which is Web 2.0 project presented in 3 minute formats). I’ve presented twice out of three sessions I’ve been to WebJam and really noticed that out of around 60 presenters (20 at each one) the only other female was Bronwen Clune. That sucks.

    How else can we encourage our gender, Cait? Cameron Reilly is right: time to lift our skirts.

  3. That is truly alarming. But it seems to be a trend with that particular group – check out their forthcoming conference in Sydney – again all the “leading speakers” are male.
    Even worse, go to this page: http://www.informa.com.au/ibcoz/marlin/system/render.jsp?MarlinViewType=MARKT_EFFORT&siteid=30000000421&marketingid=20001582566&proceed=true&MarEntityId=10025014833&entHash=254a4a583
    and check out the rotating banner images on their registration page. It is difficult to spot more than two females in the audience, and absolutely none on the panels.
    Yikes. I am not sure I would even bother contacting the organisation to complain let alone having any sort of affiliation with it all. It looks like a secret men’s club, and not one visual element speaks of creativity to me.

  4. Well ma’am I looked at that page earlier – and had exactly the same response. So, are we not being invited because they guys don’t know that there are web 2.0 women out there? Or is cos they can’t be arsed asking us? Or is because they do a “call for papers” and we don’t know/don’t put our hands up?

    I know that Lachlan from WebJam would LOVE to have more females present. I’m not so sure of some of the blokes at these other events…

    I think we should have a proactive “Dob In a Dame Campaign” (cool name huh? :P)to nominate female speakers. I name Megalicious to present at WWWWeb 2.0 – she can talk about Blogpond’s top 100 Australian blogs site. Nice Evangelist stuff there… Ok Meg? 😀

  5. Argh. I was at WebJam Perth and so rushed off my feet the week beforehand that I didn’t present. I didn’t even think of the gender ratio issue, and now I feel guilty for not making a bigger effort 🙁

    Being on the other side of the country, I can’t come to WWWWomen… but before the Web Directions conference, AWIA is holding a “Port80 Sydney” event, details here: http://www.webindustry.asn.au/events/2007/08/nsw-port80-meetup/

    While there’s now quite a few chicks that come along to the Perth Port80 meets, for a long time I was often the only one. It’s a totally social geekout opportunity, so here’s a call to action: let’s make the NSW Port80 meetup a gender-balanced one from the outset. See yas there 🙂

  6. The question is, why are the ladies waiting to be invited? Who regularly contacts AIMIA to advise they are available. What mixed and male-heavy events do you attend?

    If the guys don’t know of any women, find out where they hang out, what they read and why they don’t meet any women at the events they go to.

    It’s essential to mix the sexes, not have female only events, as that only helps maintain the silos, with no cross-pollination.

    MODM ( http://www.modm.info ) in Melbourne has a great mix of people, there’s a slight tip to the male side in numbers (only just) and diversity across industries as well.

    Make sure you recommend your male colleagues to women in your network just as much as you do the women and vice versa.

    Check the diversity of the RSS feeds you follow, your IM list, your Twitter, the events you attend.

    A mashup is the goal, not two separate RSS feeds.

    Too often I see female-only groups, events, newsletters, and while it’s great to get women involved, the blokes still never see them as they don’t go to those events.

  7. @maadonna
    that’s great! thanks for the link! Yes some organisers make sure that more than the usual suspects are invited to speak. 🙂

    that’s great – I was unaware that MODM had so many female speakers. We certainly don’t have 50/50 speakers in sydney though the audience is close to 50/50. As mentioned in my post, guys are welcome to the event but it’s a practice run for the mixed gender WebJam coming up – apparently women aren’t nominating themselves and the ones I spoke to wanted a practice run. As to having mixed speaker events – that’s the aim. But we can’t push our way into Digital Beach, or the AIMIA one, which is clearly organised by the boys for the boys, all we can do is practice and be prepared to speak up when given the opportunity. And yes, I’ve recommended both males and females for a number of events including an upcoming virtual world one. Oh and I agree about female only organisations like FITT.

    To all, it’s good to see a number of responses already. So if you’ve got a web 2.0 project and want that practice run (you might get two runthroughs! 🙂 ) speak up!

  8. @Kay Perth WebJam had 3 female speakers… Bronwen Clune, Kat Black and Megyn Carpenter. Ratio 1/5. Not brilliant but not too shabby compared to the other cities… Besides weren’t you heavily involved with certain other geek events on WA that week! Quick remove your guilt it’s totally misplaced 🙂

  9. MODM has barely any speakers at all, it’s more many-to-many than one-to-many. But attendees are approx. 50/50

  10. Another all-boy event, again from AIMIA:

    Strange that they’ve timed it to clash with the (gender-balanced) Web Directions conference.

    I’ve emailed AIMIA about the boys on the beach event, so we’ll see what comes back.

    I agree with Laurel’s suggestion about having a web women’s event to practice public speaking. While it’s not good to have an us-and-them event for reasons others have discussed here, I think we really need a “safe space” to practice these skills, so count me in, sister. I for one would feel comfortable speaking at an event like this, but feel a little intimidated by the trendy Web Jam crowd, and it’s all to do with confidence.

  11. Hi there

    Good post that raises a few issues.

    I agree that it would be great to have more female speakers, but for a variety of reasons this isnt easy to do (in fact it is downright difficult).

    However, I can say that the imbalance certainly isn’t something that is intended, and I am very pleased to say that at AIMIA events I do attend the balance of the people in the audience is usually even.

    A sad fact of our industry is that there are hardly any female digital creative directors. This is probably reflected in the program given it is mainly creative heads talking.

    For the digital beach event, three high profile females were in fact specifcially asked, but all were unavailable.

    From a personal perspective I couldnt care less what gender the speakers are, I am only interested in what they have to day. That said, balance is always a good thing. I actually have never looked at speakers as male or female, just as I dont look at them as white or black, or Australian or American (well, maybe the American thing!), I just want to learn and be immersed.

    There is actually already a group of women in digital I believe, they are linked with digital ministry in some way.

  12. Hi Peter, thank you for clarifying. I’m interested to see that three women were asked but declined. That is quite common. Apparently both men and women always say NO first time, but men often change their mind.Women don’t. What does that tell you? Heh. And yes I didn’t make that up but I’ve been told before, a few times. Poor event organisers 🙁

    I wonder why there are only 3 women in senior roles as creatives? It’s not like Sydney isn’t lousy with agencies…

    BTW ACMA/CA last week (the one hosted by Jennie Brockie) – we female speakers were 6 to 5 men. But Travel Tech – 2 of us women to 19 guys.

    I still think that if we practice, more of us will say YES, and there’ll be a greater pool of both men and women to choose from, for speaking engagements. Not just ‘the usual suspects’. Plus it will stop the snide “token woman” tags. I hope.

  13. Hello ladies,

    I am fortunate enough to be one of the 6 women who actually work at AIMIA, along with two men. I work with a Board of 15 people, 5 of whom are females. Our NSW State Chapter (who are organising the Digital Beach event) is made up of 12 very pro-active AIMIA members, 5 of which are women. We have two highly successful Industry Development Groups, the Mobile Industry Group which is chaired by yet another great woman – Claudia Sagripanti, and the IAB, also chaired by a fantastic woman – Patty Keagan. Sorry ladies, but there ain’t no boys club here.

    In reply to your comments regarding the images of men in the header of the Summit event pages on the Informa site; these are not actually taken from the AIMIA event – they are generic images used across their website for all events.

    Our role is to represent and service our members, and this year alone we have asked our members to put their hands up and names forward if they are interested in speaking at our events, and to let us know what topics they would like to hear about. If you don’t tell us what you want, we can’t help you. And if you don’t support us (by being a pro-active member) how can we support you?

    We know that there are plenty of intelligent web 2.0 woman in Australia, and we know it as we are fortunate enough to work with them on a daily basis. If anyone; no matter what sex, race, sexual orientation or age, want to contribute to AIMIA and our activities, they simply need to let us know. Apparently women are better communicators than men!?!

  14. I find the notion of holding a female only event completely demeaning and the idea that we need a safe environment ridiculous.

    Webjam, as an example (because I’m involved in the event), is a friendly, social environment. Not one person has ever been booed on or off stage. We have tried and tried to get more female presenters for balance, but the fact is, they’re not as interested, for whatever reason.

    Laurel, holding the exact same event but only allowing females to present diminishes the credibility of the presenters and the event.

    Same venue, same format, same audience but women only presenters?

    Wouldn’t it be more productive to find ways of encouraging and supporting them to participate in any of the existing events we have?

    Or if you want to start something different, allow male presenters as well.

    Are you saying these women would be too shy to share a stage with men but not too shy to present in front of a mixed audience?

    I really don’t get it?

  15. Actually Katherine, the discussion is about the lack of women speakers. No I don’t think AIMIA has anywhere near 50/50 representation when it comes to Speakers. Women do a great job of organising, we make up 50% of the audience and take major roles in various industry organisations but it’s rare that women take 50% of the speaking spots.

    It is daunting to be the only (or one of the only) females on an all -male panel. And no doubt guys feel it intimidating when they are the only one on an all female event. Which is rare. But nevertheless it IS scary and might be why so few women put their hands up. This WWWWomen evening is the opportunity for women to practice speaking. Not organising, not working with, not being part of the audience but speaking.

    And if you don’t support us (by being a pro-active member) how can we support you? Yes. Exactly. By having a stepping stone evening so we can present our web 2.0 projects in an entrepreneurial style and “talk it up” we gain public speaking skills. Public presenters are groomed, co-erced, blackmailed, bribed, mentored and bullied. They aren’t born. 😛

    It’s kinda tricky to pull off the “oh we have 50/50 representation” AS WELL AS “if you don’t speak up, we can’t give you 50/50 representation”. Bottom line: justified or unjustified this is the perception of AIMIA (and similar) Web 2.0 events.

    BTW gals, Lachlan has offered the SMS voting system. Sort of GeekGirlIdol. I recommend we don’t list all the votes (this is supposed to be a positive experience not a negative one!) but we can say who the winner is and give ’em a prize. Probably a speaking spot at a conference 😛

  16. @Lisa they’re not as interested, for whatever reason. Actually it was the WebJam guys who first spoke up about women not putting their hands up. When I asked the women why they said no, they said they didn’t feel comfortable. Silly? maybe. But still a fact.

    Right or wrong, that’s how it is. And this isn’t a WebJam rip off. It’s an opportunity for women to try presenting their projects in front of other women. It’s not a FITT because they can bring their partners. If you don’t agree, don’t attend. But enough women have said yes to make me think that while you find it demeaning (and I know you present publicly a lot) others may find it helpful, or at least be willing to give it a go. As always, your mileage may vary.

  17. Thanks Laurel for the response. I understand that the discussion is about the lack of women speakers in industry events, which is exactly why I felt compelled to respond.

    Comments such as:

    ‘we can’t push our way into Digital Beach, or the AIMIA one, which is clearly organised by the boys for the boys’

    ‘are we not being invited because they guys don’t know that there are web 2.0 women out there? Or is cos they can’t be arsed asking us? Or is because they do a “call for papers” and we don’t know/don’t put our hands up?’

    And from Angela; ‘I am not sure I would even bother contacting the organisation to complain let alone having any sort of affiliation with it all. It looks like a secret men’s club, and not one visual element speaks of creativity to me.’

    …do not address the problem or incite solutions for this issue. Saying that AIMIA is a boys club and suggesting that women are not given the opportunity to speak at our events is incorrect, and does not in any way help the matter.

    You said it yourself earlier; ‘all we can do is practice and be prepared to speak up when given the opportunity.’ The opportunity is there, so please give us something constructive to work with; like names of people interested in speaking at AIMIA events, and what their areas of expertise are.

  18. Hi Katherine, I can see how some flippant comments of mine may have obscured the more serious questions so here goes:

    There’s 43 women with web 2.0 projects – and one guy 🙂 – who have joined Wild Wicked Wanton Women of Web 2.0 group on Facebook.
    Perhaps approach them to ask them to speak. If they say no, why not ask them why? I also would love some more insight.

    If AIMIA claims the Digital Beach as one of their events then they have to expect that we look at the number of agencies – I assume AIMIA has the number of interactive agencies in Australia? – and then wonder why there isn’t ONE woman representing web 2.0 at that event. Three women were invited – all three said no. Ten men are speaking – how many men said no? I can’t extrapolate out – maybe 30 men were asked, maybe not. But are you happy with those numbers?

    What is the breakdown of women speaking at web 2.0 events for AIMIA? (not organising, on stage) in a twelve month period? Is there a mentorship program? Genuine question, I haven’t checked. 🙂

    *shrugs* I’m organising an evening for a few women – probably six – to practice some presentations to an audience of friends and family (probably 20). Some people think that is belittling, some think it’s a waste of time, most won’t care either way. For me, Digital Beach still looks like a boys club event – and I’m happy to leave them to it. 🙂

    But I am glad that a couple of AIMIA member care enough to debate on here. Agree or not we might motivate a few more than the usual suspects to put their names forward and that can only be good. 🙂

  19. Laurel, I think if you re-read my comment you’ll see that I haven’t called your event a “rip-off”.

    What I did say is that you’re proposing the same event format in the same venue with the same audience (male and female), but only allowing female presenters. And then I asked you why it wouldn’t be more productive to simply use your energy to encourage and motivate women to present at Webjam (or any other event).

    You said that the women you’ve spoken with felt uncomfortable presenting, but this suggests that they felt uncomfortable presenting at an event where men are presenting. Is that what they meant? Or perhaps they meant they feel uncomfortable speaking in front of a crowd, or that they feel uncomfortable speaking about technical things? There are so many reasons to feel uncomfortable.

    I’d also really love to know why women are less open to presenting, because it would give us some actual information we can work with. I’d like to know if the same ratio of women to men decline requests to present.

    The other thing to remember is that women only make up 25% of the ICT profession. So there are bound to be less women to start with. Given that stat, it seems like we’re placing a huge amount of pressure on those 25% of women to make up the 50% at conferences and events. But I’m pretty bad at maths…. 🙂

  20. Ah ok, I see the problem – this isn’t strictly ICT. It includes media, marketing and education perspectives. More AIMIA than technical, except AIMIA is agency/industry focussed, whereas this is We Media. The numbers are much better vis a vis women in Web 2.0 once you get out of developer-land. 🙂

  21. Oh and I forgot to answer your question “And then I asked you why it wouldn’t be more productive to simply use your energy to encourage and motivate women to present at Webjam (or any other event).”

    I don’t know of another way to encourage and motivate women to present. What do you suggest?

    Incidentally, look at WebJam through an outsiders eyes – nearly umm 300? mostly geeky, mostly drunk, mostly screaming males. Bless their little cotton socks – they are a great bunch once you get to know them – but I totally get why it might be tough to pull women presenters in. Especially first-timers who are then up for a “vote”, a la Geek Idol. Don’t be mad at me for saying that. 🙂 I’m a huge fan of webjam and it’s a brilliant implementation of the stand up or ignite format. What does the future hold? Twittering our presentations? Heh.

  22. Ok, I confess, I am on the National Executive of AIMIA. Along with a bunch of other women.

    I saw the Digital Beach line up and the lack of gender representation crossed my mind. As did the idea that maybe Byron wasn’t really the hub of Web 2.0…

    I probably speak at about 10 AIMIA events a year – AIMIA organised ones, rather than those done by outside event organisers on AIMIA’s behalf. And, as Kat says, AIMIA is an organisation with strong representation from strong women (members, state executive members and national executive members).

    It is easy to find discrimination in this industry. Look at the main media companies and find the women! When conferences are organised and names are listed – they’ll go the CEO (almost always male) as a drawcard. “They”, in this case, being the event organisers on the whole.

    No-one doubts the involvement of Wicked Wild Wanton Women in the whole Web 2.0 world. I see them, speak to them, network with them, learn from them and share with them on a daily basis.

    I view AIMIA’s roles as enducating people as to the importance of the interactive and multimedia industry. I don’t see this being done in any gender exclusive way – even if occassionally it is easy to look at a single event and make a judgement based on that.

    Ok, Digital Beach ended up with a lousy line-up, and some event agencies are dumb when it comes to representation. And yes, this industry, like many, has more high profile men than women.

    But we also have lots of strong, savvy, smart women – strong enough to demand space; savvy enough to know what the real problem is; and smart enough to be heard far more often that we are currently.

    WWWWomen is a great start – let’s make sure conference organisers see it at the resource it can be.

  23. Surely the AIMIA as the industry body has the bandwidth to champion diversity AND excellence. Aren’t these two linked?
    No one ‘intends’ to discriminate against an under represented segment of a community. But invisibility and lack of opportunity to have a share of voice IS discrimination.

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