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BlogWorld ’10: More Women Than Ever

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2010 was BlogWorld’s Year of the Woman. We worked hard to make sure we had the best possible content for our conference and almost 50% of our speakers were women. You see, though our most important goal was to ensure you had the best educational experience possible, we were also under pressure to make sure women were being heard. Even without a goal of 50% we managed to have almost that many women speaking. That we had so many amazing woman speakers must mean there are more strong, influential women in social media than ever.

We’re so proud.

Before BlogWorld ’10 we heard from women who were afraid BlogWorld wasn’t a very “woman friendly” event. We took issue to this. We’re very “woman friendly.” In fact, almost everyone working for BlogWorld are women.

The problem was that many women weren’t choosing to attend. Some, with limited budgets to only choose one or two conferences a year, were going to BlogHer a very woman friendly event, or SXSW a bigger event. However, it seemed to me for a while that if there were fewer woman coming to BlogWorld it was because there were fewer women in social media.

Still, we work hard to make sure women know they’re wanted and welcome at BlogWorld.

2010 showed amazing growth for our event. Not only did more people come, but many more women were in attendance. In 2009, 35% of our attendees were women. In 2010, women made up 41% of those in attendance. Obviously there are still fewer women than men, but you can’t deny we’re closing the gap.

Again, our goal is to bring together folks from the blogging and social media communities regardless of gender, race, creed or preference. That we have such a diverse group of attendees shows us that we accomplished what we set out for. BlogWorld ’10 had more women than ever.

Let’s see if we can’t reach 50% at BlogWorld ’11!

Image via John Hewitt

Feedback

10
  • Dave Taylor

    I have to ask, Deb, why is 50% the target for female participation? Are there stats that demonstrate that 50% of active bloggers are women?

  • Deb Ng

    Dave, I wouldn’t say 50% is a target. It’s sort of my point where I hope people will stop saying “well, you don’t have enough women.” If I can say, “well, half our speakers are women” it might show those who feel that we’re not “woman friendly” that it isn’t the case at all. Our biggest goal is to provide the best content possible, whether male or female.

  • Rick

    I will disagree with Deb a bit and clarify here. We have no set number Dave. I give you credit for this every time the subject comes up and I will never forget a very casual comment you made to me back in 2006. “We should reach out to more women speakers”. The moment you said it, I knew you were right. The idea had never crossed my mind before, but it just struck a chord I will never forget.

    I think it is important to mention Dave and I don’t have a tech background. I have worked on events that are male dominated, and events that are female dominated. We never thought about a ratio of women vs. men when we first started building BlogWorld. We were just trying to build an event for all new media content creators.

    I wasn’t aware of the male domination of the tech space until we started attending some related events like CES, Web 2.0 Expo, etc. It didn’t take long to notice it or the hostile environment for women at many tech events.

    We knew we never wanted that to happen at BlogWorld and that by its very nature BlogWorld needed to be as diverse as possible by race, gender, subject matter, and every other way we can imagine in order to represent the entire social media space.

    Back to your question and comment; there is no quota, there is no target. Just an awareness that we have to work harder to get our message out to some communities and let them know they are welcome and vitally important to the success of our event and our industry.

    I have mentioned these points before before but they are worth repeating here, 90% of our speaker submissions are from men. There is definitely a perception in some communities that we are a “tech event” or “not female friendly”. Both are completely untrue. We are a media event and as we as you know we have been actively recruiting women to participate at our event from the beginning.

    We have to keep telling our story to make sure it is heard and people are aware of our record and our continuing effort to ensure BlogWorld truly represents and includes the entire BlogWorld.

  • Deb Ng

    Also, I’m (we’re) not looking for 50%, as much as I think 50% is when people stop saying, “BlogWorld has more men than women.” It’s not as much a goal as it is something to look forward to.

  • Dave

    To Rick’s point about 90% of speaking proposals coming from men, this is something I’d like to see changing significantly. But how will it change? That’s a question for another blog post. In the meantime, we’ll continue proactive outreach and increasingly build a welcoming and nurturing environment for women in media at this event. I’m not saying we reach everyone we’d like to, or everyone we should, but we put great efforts into recruitment and this will continue indefinitely.

    A small slice of 2010 pre-event outreach to share: I pursued a prominent media company’s C-level female exec for a keynote panel this year. Not primarily because she’s a woman, but because she’s brilliant and she’s a woman. Turned out that her calendar had a conflict, so the company offered me their male C-level representative (in this case, their President). I turned them down. We get turned down by C-level women each year and get offered men. Maddening, yes. Will we stop trying? No.

    Another example: I spoke with a successful woman in our space this year about joining us on an important panel; she couldn’t participate due to her calendar conflict, so I asked for personal recommendations of people to fill her spot. She started listing several men, and I interrupted her… “All of the people you’re mentioning are men…What about women?” She answered “Oh. I’ll have to think about it and get back to you.”

    I’m thinking there are some interesting discussions coming in upcoming blog posts about these issues.

    There is no quota, only socio-cultural bias which needs to change, and that can only come through pressure and time. We’ve been striving to affect change and it’s nice to see that the numbers show it. But in actuality, we haven’t been keeping track throughout the event-building process. It’s only after the event that we’ve taken a peek at how things ended up, and although proud, we were as surprised as anyone to see recognizable numeric differences compared to last year. If we can continue progressing toward an objective of ever-improving content and an environment of diversity over time, we’ll reach a good destination.

    More important than numeric measurement for validation, I’m most looking forward to seeing the fabric of our community and industry strengthen and be enriched with multiple colors, voices and viewpoints.

  • Dave Taylor

    Great discussion, and I have to say that it’s terrific that you, as organizers of one of the biggest conferences in our segment, are as attentive to this issue as you are. I keep wondering whether we could apply this same logic to handicapped people, to hispanics, to native americans, etc. Heck, there are homeless people who utilize public access computers to blog: are they represented at the podium?

    This is a philosophical issue, of course, and I think you’re doing the right thing: your responsibility as conference organizers is to create the most welcoming, most friendly environment for non-mainstream bloggers that’s possible. It’s NOT to actually HAVE these people participate, because somewhere in the mix we need to add personal responsibility and initiative. This is consistent with how I view the difference between K-12 and adult education: Adult ed is all about having an attractive water trough, but it’s up to the individual to drink or not. In other words, the measure is the environment, not the outcome.

    If more women want to speak at BlogWorld Expo, if more women wish the panels and sessions weren’t so skewed to male participants, then I believe it’s up to women to pitch themselves, to propose sessions and panels, to get involved.

    Kudos to you, Dave, Rick, Deb, etc, for doing the right thing. Now let’s see who steps up.

  • Rick Calvert

    Thank you Dave 8). Again you are right and we have already started the process to expand our outreach to other under-represented communities at BlogWorld. We will be sharing more of our outreach efforts soon.

  • Dave Taylor

    Excellent. And about that under-represented demographic of single dad bloggers who live in Boulder, Colorado… 🙂

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