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On Getting Women to Speak at BlogWorld

Author:

Aliza Sherman

In her post “BlogWorld Keynotes Announced: It’s Looking Good? It’s Looking Male!” web pioneer Aliza Sherman wondered why there were only three keynoters who are women and, in general, why there is always such a big discrepancy in the male to female speaker ratio at BlogWorld.

At first I was defensive. After all, I played a part in choosing speakers for this year’s event, and I even worked very hard at finding qualified women. After thinking about it a while, I agree Aliza has a point. There AREN’T as many women who are speakers. Now, that’s not our fault at all. At BlogWorld we actively recruit women who we feel will be strong presenters. However, they don’t always step up. Also? There are more men in social media, so it stands to reason there will be more male speakers.

As I was discussing this on Skype with a friend she asked, “ Why don’t I see YOUR name as speaker at more conferences. You;’ve been doing this a long time.

Touche!

Though I’m just coming off a keynote panel at the Type A Mom Conference and I have spoken at BlogWorld, SXSW and other events, the truth is, I don’t throw my hat into the ring much. After Aliza’s post yesterday, I thought about why:

  • I don’t consider myself a “guru,” “thought leader” or expert. Would people come to see me speak?
  • I don’t have confidence in myself – not as a speaker, I enjoy speaking, but in submitting a proposal. I may be a writer, but I can’t find the words for proposals.
  • I get stage fright.
  • I’m technically and design challenged and can’t make all those pretty slides other presenters seem to come up with. (Seriously, that weighs on my mind.)

My reasons for not speaking don’t have anything to do with BlogWorld or gender bias, it has to do with my own self-confidence, and I wonder if other women have the same issues.

The Frustration of Finding Strong (Women) Speakers for BlogWorld

When it was announced that I was appointed Conference Director, my fellow women in social media were thrilled.  Many told me they hoped to see more women speaking at BlogWorld and I assured them it was my goal. I attended conferences such as BlogHer and Type A Mom in hopes of recruiting more speakers.  I also reached out to many of my favorite women to invite them to submit a proposal.

Then I learned it wasn’t so easy to find women to speak.

Let me share what happened:

  • Many women who I invited to propose, didn’t. They said, “I would love to submit a proposal” but let the deadline slip by.
  • Many women didn’t submit a strong proposal. In fact, some only wanted to speak because it meant they got a free pass – and it showed.
  • Many of the up and coming women in social media didn’t submit a proposal at all.
  • Many women declined when we invited them to speak.
  • Many women agreed to speak but had to back out due to other commitments.
  • Most of the best proposals were sent by men.
  • Many women didn’t propose, but rather, sat back and waited for us to invite them.

Though I get frustrated with “women lists,” lists of “top women in (insert name of niche here),” I don’t really believe there’s a gender bias here. I think it’s a shortage of confidence and commitment.  For example, I’m shy. However, I might be inclined to take a deep, brave breath and submit proposals to speak at one of the many conferences held each year but I worry about who will get my son off the school bus if no friends or family are available.  Women have to worry about this. Not all of us have childcare when we go away.

Now I do think there are some perceptions we can’t shake, despite our best effort. For example, yesterday someone recommended me for an interview on a popular network because I was a “mommy blogger.” Except that I’m not a mommy blogger. Somehow, having a child automatically turns me into one though. I don’t get that. I also think, despite there being many strong, qualified, mommy bloggers, they’re not held in the same respect as social media or business bloggers.

So here is my challenge to the hundreds of qualified women in social media and blogging. I want to see you speak at BlogWorld. I would love for you to keynote at BlogWorld. However, you need to give us a good reason to put you on the roster.

  1. Step up to the plate.
  2. Take a deep breath
  3. Send us a proposal that knocks it out of the park.

You have plenty of time to work on it, so no excuses!

As we said yesterday (in response to Aliza’s post), our goal is to find good content, not fill a quota. However, wouldn’t it be terrific if much of our best content was presented by women?

Are you up for the challenge?


Feedback

35
  • Katja Presnal

    Thank you for a great kick in the butt Deb, and thank you for asking me to come and moderate a panel, looking forward to it – I love to speak about social media.

    You are right – it is difficult for many women to step up and write a proposal, me included. I am planning on changing this and I guarantee that next year I will do my best to be one of the keynote speakers.

  • Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot

    Hi Deb, I put in a proposal but it was rushed. I only found out that day about it but wanted to give it a go. I would love to speak another time. Yes, I’d be nervous but I’m going to Toastmasters to improve my speaking skills and overcome my fear.

    I like to speak about social media because I want more women to get involved in it. The male/female imbalance needs to be addressed and the only way for that to happen is if normal women who aren’t techxperts can step up and explain exactly what makes social media marvelous and how anyone can experience the joys and benefits it offers.

    Next year I’m going to make sure my proposal knocks it out of the park. But first I’m going to relax and enjoy this year’s conference and learn about what makes a great speaker, what makes BlogWorld a great place to learn about social media and why people go to it. I can’t wait:) I especially look forward to hearing the female speakers.

  • Jennifer James

    This is a great post! I have a lot of insight to share about this business based on all the little things I’ve learned along the way, but never feel quite qualified enough to speak at Blog World Expo and conferences such as this.

    You’re right. It’s all about confidence to get out there and hit the ball out the park. Thanks for challenging us!

  • CathyP

    Hi Deb, it’s a trend I’ve noticed as well and I don’t believe there’s an intentional gender bias either. Shame to hear you got weak proposals but it’s like anything we do – we start where we are and can only get better. Hope those same women will submit again next year…

    …one last thing, where do I sign up ?? lol !!

    Cathy

  • Alli

    Hm. I didn’t even realize the ratio was so off until you pointed it out! To be honest, I just want to see the BEST speakers at any conference, whether that means 20 men and 1 woman or 20 women and 1 man. You could make the same argument about race – why are there so few minority speakers? I think BWE def has the right idea – pick the best speakers, trying to be blind to things like sex and race, choosing speakers based on content alone. I don’t want to see anyone get chosen based on what’s between their legs if someone else deserved the speaker spot.

  • Kelby

    Deb, this is a great post! For me, most of my speakers are women and I do find it can be challenging. I get oodles of submissions, but definitely see the weak proposals where people are just seeking out a ticket. Fortunately, there are some amazing speakers who are women and I think we need to do what we can to encourage them…. that said, the old saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” applies. I think as conference organizers, we should do all we can to encourage women to speak at tech conferences, but we cannot force them to submit, force them to be professional, force them to submit outstanding proposals, force them to show up, etc.

    Each year, I have a policy of having speakers who are first-timers. That is, of course, risky, but in most cases it has paid dividends. And it makes me so happy to see the results: I think every speaker last year who was a first-timer at Type-A Mom has spoken since, in many cases at multiple conferences. I know that may not be a viable model for BWE since you guys are expected to have the best of the best, but I think your attending and witnessing speakers at smaller conferences can be a great way to find undiscovered talent.

  • Cecelia

    As a woman speaking at BlogWorld 2010 I find the discussion an interesting one and completely understand your point about perceptions. I haven’t fully embrace the “mom blogger” or “mommy blogger” moniker even though my original site certainly falls under that umbrella. After branching out and creating a blog network, we often receive emails asking to review products when clearly the Diva site does not do so. Overcoming these perceptions is one of ours goals though admittedly it’s a tall order.

    One thing we’ve learned by bringing together blogs from our niche is the incredible versatility and talent base these women posses. I would be thrilled to see your challenge met by some of these incredible ladies.

  • Miss Britt

    “Many women didn’t propose, but rather, sat back and waited for us to invite them.”

    I have this problem, and I even find myself getting resentful when I’m not approached. I do think there is some cultural gender difference here, because a LOT of women have a problem ‘tooting their own horn’, especially if they are mothers or wives. We are told over and over again that the definition of a good mother is one who suffers silently, and it’s hard to let those standards go when we enter other worlds.

  • Sheila Scarborough

    The key to success for much of this is simply having an organizational system….

    Many of the same conferences that we enjoy every year happen at the same time every year. Hel-lo! Speaker proposals open up and then close on fairly set timelines for many of these conferences (SXSWi – South by Southwest Interactive comes to mind in particular, as do BlogWorld and BlogHer.)

    Get out a calendar, lay out when these events happen, and start actively pinging to find out when they’re taking proposals. Be ready. Have some topics in the back of your mind. Flesh them out. Propose them! Act like a pro: have a short bio, good headshot photo and list of possible topics always ready to go.

    Enter the No Wuss Zone, women.

    We all miss proposal deadlines – I missed one earlier this year for the first Ignite Austin because I just wasn’t paying proper attention, but you can bet that the minute I heard they were putting one together for this fall, I was all over it.

    I also missed a proposal deadline for a conference in a niche I’ve just started exploring, because I didn’t even know about the conference happening, but once I found out about it I shot them an email anyway offering a few topics that I could speak about in case they have a speaker fall out. They were super-gracious in response, and they start taking proposals for next fall’s conference THIS November.

    Yeah, that’s next month, for Fall 2011, and I’m ready. That’s what it takes.

    • Kellye Crane

      Excellent advice, Shelia. I think many of us don’t hesitate to take this approach for our clients, but when it comes to ourselves we’re last on the to do list. I speak regularly, but nearly all of those opportunities have fallen into my lap. It’s time for me to take charge of my own destiny! Thanks also to Deb for the reality check.

  • Melanie Nelson

    Great post, as usual, Deb. I love to speak, but I don’t have the confidence to submit proposals because I feel like there are so many great options out there — why choose me? It’s a confidence thing for me. At the same time, I *love* speaking (even thought I’m an introvert) and sharing knowledge, leading or moderating discussions, etc. So I’ve started submitted proposals for conferences next year. I’m getting out of my comfort zone.

    Another issue is that many women-centric conferences don’t usually have a dedicated tech track and, like you, I’m a woman with kids who isn’t a mommy blogger. I’m a tech blogger and a technical writer. But if you put tech up against monetization, photography, or writing workshops, tech generally loses out. Maybe I’m looking at the wrong conferences? 😉 I also prefer to do hands-on workshops because I find those are the most useful to me, but again, it’s hard to find those opportunities at a conference. Which is odd because you have the smartest people there and it’s a prime hands-on learning opportunity. Instead we re-hash theory and ideas (which are important, but so is implementation).

    If you have specific advice on why you liked some proposals over another, I bet there are several of us women who would welcome the input and guidance!

  • Tony:Frosty

    Great article and thanks for pointing out the imbalance. For many, I think the biggest factors are fear of public speaking and confidence. Panels are a great way to start – especially if the moderator is someone you know. Then it becomes more of a conversation.

    Also joining a speech club like Toastmasters is a great way to practice (in a supportive environment) and gain confidence. And it also helps to improve in areas we don’t usually think about – filler words, pauses, tempo, eye contact and voice projection. All of those little things when put together can dramatically improve your speech. And your confidence.

    When I first started out – I hated public speaking. But since I was in Social Media I was determined to improve that. You never really loose the nervousness – but you do learn how to deal with and work it to your advantage.

  • Nathalie Lussier

    I bit the bullet, proposed a talk, and it was selected. I have to admit though that I sent in 2 submissions, because my first one didn’t feel strong enough. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Sometimes you need to “warm up” before the real good stuff shows up. 🙂

    Anyways, I’m reallllly looking forward to BlogWorld – and I know there are some awesome female speakers in with the guys. So I’m not worrying so much about the gap. You did a great job Deb, it’s going to be a great conference!

  • Lucretia Pruitt

    Okay, I’m torn.
    I agree that it’s tough to find women who are willing to step up to the plate. But honestly? Yeah – there is a bias. Even in your mind Deb. Even in mine.
    Because we *know* that certain male speakers are actually bigger draws.
    Let’s get down to the part where we also admit that part of it is the audience.
    Every single time I have gone to see a strong woman present at a non-woman-specific conference, the audience is predominantly female. The guys? They don’t show up as much.
    I’ve actually talked about this privately with some of the bigger male speakers. You know what I was told? Because too often, women speakers get slotted to speak about “touchy feely” issues.

    Yes, there are the exceptions to the rule. But damn it YES. Let’s ALL start admitting that there is a gender bias.
    And we perpetuate it. As speakers – we submit touchy-feely subjects because we know that they are more likely to get us in. As audience members – we don’t really WANT to go see the touchy-feely sessions all the time. As conference planners – we know that the bigger draws are usually NOT the women.

    Yes. I said it.

    I’m also 100% in agreement with you Deb. I’ve been slacking. I have submitted panel proposals rather than solos or keynotes. Why? Because I wasn’t confident in my ability to get slotted.

    But I spent part of my illness this week resolving to change that. Because I got a book in the mail… by Nancy Duarte – and I couldn’t put it down. http://is.gd/fEQUJ “resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences” – and in reading it I realized that despite my asking many friends who are sought after keynotes for advice, I had never been given *truly* useful advice like this. I was given the “submit strong proposals” and “keep trying” and “believe in your ability to tell a story” – and I kept getting offers to speak on mommy panels and touchy-feely stuff. So I gave up pushing back.

    Now? You can expect me to be pushing back. You can expect me to be helping other women speakers to find this resource. You can expect that I’m going to push YOU to do it too Deb. Because yeah, you have been just hanging around far too long.

    But can we not pretend that the bias doesn’t exist? Let’s acknowledge it. Then let’s change it.

  • Deb Ng

    Lucretia – I’m not sure if I agree. There really aren’t many “touchy feely” topics at BlogWorld – except maybe in the Cause or health tracks, and those feature a balance of men and women. We don’t say, “Yeah that’s a real Oprah topic, lets get a woman to do that one.” We choose women based on their expertise and strengths.

    And you know what? You’re right in that many male speakers are bigger draws, but that’s not necessarily a BlogWorld issue or a gender bias issue, it’s a popularity issue. Did you know that we turned down some “big name” speakers this year because they presented several times in the past and we wanted to bring in new blood? Also, did you know we searched for up and comers over established gurus. Both male and female. We wanted new blood, not the same old same old.

    Also, this year you were asked to sit on a panel teaching Mom bloggers to blog for money and not swag. We felt this is where your strength lies – in breaking out of that mommy stereotype and learning how to ask for and receive the respect you deserve – including real, honest pay. We didn’t look at this panel and think, hmmm….”Mom Blogger…Lucretia Pruitt.” We said, “Lucretia was successful at breaking out of the mommy blogger stereotype and making a name for herself as a rising star in social media, she’s the one who should empower the mom bloggers for this talk.” We really try and match up a speaker’s strengths.

    I think the time has come for women to stop pointing fingers as to why they’re not keynoting. Instead, they need to pinpoint those reasons and figure out how to move past them. Those reasons are just excuses. It’s not BlogWorld’s fault that we don’t have enough women speaking and it’s not BlogWorld’s fault that the blogger formerly known as “Geekmommy” is considered an expert on the pitfalls of Mommy blogging. If anything, we’re working hard to be a part of the solution.

  • Naomi Trower

    I love speaking and sharing about social media. I sent in a proposal for Mortgage Revolution in San Francisco earlier this year. I was one of the few women that spoke about Mortgage Blogging at the event. I’m very used to being in a male environment though (being an engineer as well) and confidence isn’t an issue for me. I have no problem stepping up but this will be my 1st Blog World. So I wanted to check out the scene first and next year step up to the plate. Did I just say that? LOL Now I have to prepare my fancy charts. 🙂 Can’t wait for my 1st Blog World in 2 weeks!!!

  • Becky Carroll

    Great discussion, one that has been had before and I am sure will continue to be bantered about (not just for BlogWorld but for other events as well). I am thrilled to be moderating a panel this year, and I would be even more thrilled to be a keynote next year!

    I have done a lot of speaking at conferences over the past decade, and I have never seen an audience of mostly women show up for me vs for other speakers. I cover the pertinent subjects that are desired by my target audience, so as long as audience needs are being met, the gender of the speaker won’t matter. Just my opinion. 🙂

    Thanks for your candid post, Deb, and I encourage you to do more speaking!

  • Elijah R. Young

    In this day and age, it’s always popular to advocate for equality across the board, even if there’s a flaw in that logic. The only thing that a conference like BlogWorld should be worried about is equal opportunity. To create the best experience for the attending audience, you have to choose the best, and i love the fact that that’s what the organizers focused on.

    Most numbers are going to skew one way of the other, not because of bias on the part of the organizers, but because of the individual initiatives and ambitions of the presenters. By forcing a ratio to meet a social expectation, it’s more likely to damage the actual quality of the event.

    In short, if there aren’t more women/blacks/any other minorities, it’s their fault. Unless it’s shown that the event only advertises it’s call for presenters to a market lacking in a certain category, and i don’t think that’s happening.

    RE: Mommy bloggers. Whether we decide to be entrepreneurial or not, we’ll always be saddled with tags that we don’t necessarily want/like, but so what? Every person on this planet has free will just like we do, and they can place you in whatever bucket that you like. That’s the fun part about running your own enterprise, you get to prove which bucket you belong in every day. This post is an open challenge to get out of the passive, “I hope they pick more women” bucket, and place yourself into the, “I’m going to be a part of this no matter what” bucket.

    This’ll be my first BlogWorld, so i’m excited to meet everyone, no matter the ratio 🙂

    @elijahryoung

  • Patti Serrano

    Thanks Deb for your defenses. They were very well written. And, I have to thank Aliza, for being so bold and writing a very true commentary. I am living in so much fear of saying anything about BlogWorld because of the treatment I received for applying, yet I think other women should know what is going on.

    First off, I love Dave and would never want to do anything to hurt his standing at Blogworld. The others however, I do not know and I don’t think it is true when they say they really looked for women speakers. Really? There are a few super star women that I know that are not on the line-up.

    As for myself. I was one of the first adopters at Twitter, and I don’t have thousands of followers I have multiple accounts that have approx. 1500 on each account that are active listeners. I don’t need the big ego with lots of followers I need the cash register to ring. And, I have proven and teach how to do that.

    Monetization has been a big subject in my world and where I speak. I was one of the first women to podcast and have 1 in the Top Ten and several in the top 200. Today, I teach strategy and monetization.

    Videocasts, webisodes, Online Classrooms were my next project in ’07 and I developed shows in several arenas and ended up on the front page of Ustream many times.

    People tell me I am a “pioneer”, the “Peter Pan of Marketing”, “Marketing Genius” yet, BlogWorld hasn’t “Found” me in their search.

    The first year I applied, I got turned down by Tim Bourguin with a form letter. I immediately sent back a sour grape, terse ‘how dare you reject me note” (I would send the same letter today). Here’s where it gets interesting. He took the letter and but it up in the hallway at his company, posted a blog that still caches up under my name and tried to make me look bad. Yet, in my opinion, I could see there was lots of turmoil at BlogWorld for a CEO to act that childish. And, people can’t believe he did that.

    In my second year to apply, I was very skeptical. Then, I heard he was gone and that Jim Turner was choosing speakers. Jim is wonderful, but not in diplomacy. I figured with video on the rise, I was a shoe in. Jim sends me a letter stating he had a hard time deciding so he was taking the weekend off and would get back to me. Myself and several others received this same letter and he never got back to us. We didn’t know whether to make plans or what. Finally, I gave up on BlogWorld and the way they do things.

    When, I saw that a women was helping in the process this year I thought for certain it was going to get better and I would not apply this year and just see what happens. Well, looked what happened. Less women.

    This is all I really want to know…… how did you search for women speakers? Where did you look? I am just curious because I want to think higher of BlogWorld and perhaps not have those fears of rejection. I really don’t need or want them. I am a productive, 64 year old women blazing trails on the internet, teaching Public Speaking with or without Blogworld. i am just curious.

    And, I want to applaud Aliza for seeking out ways to get more women at conferences, I totally endorse what she is doing and plan to mentor as many women as I can to be trailblazers. Will you let me know where you looked? Th

    I hope you put yourself in my shoes and see why I feel this way…..Thanks

  • Deb Ng

    Hi Patti,

    Have you seen our schedule? We don’t have fewer women this year, we have a lot of women speaking.. Aliza’s point is that there are fewer women who are keynoting. Yes, that’s true but that doesn’t mean we don’t have any strong women offering something of value at BlogWorld this year.

    But again, though I do want to see more women on the roster, my job is to find the best speakers possible. Not women. Not men. Not martians. But the best possible speakers regardless of gender (and anything else you throw at me.).

    As for how we search for women, it’s simple. In addition to receiving proposals, we contacted women who we wanted to speak at BlogWorld. (If they want to check in here, they can.) Some did propose, others didn’t. We also had our track committees invite speakers and we think they provided a good balance. Out of about 280 speakers, 130-ish women will be presenting, some of them more than once. I think it’s safe to say women will have a strong presence at BlogWorld this year and I’m extremely proud of our lineup.

    Also, this is the first I have made your acquaintance, if I don’t know you, I can’t reach out to you, especially if you didn’t submit a proposal. Finally, if I’m not mistaken, Tim Bourguin was with the New Media Expo before it merged with BlogWorld. That decision really didnt have anything to do with us here.

  • Rick Calvert

    As Deb says, Tim who is a good guy does not own BlogWorld and never did. He was the founder and owner of the Podcast Expo which eventually became New Media Expo. He can defend himself if he likes but I have no knowledge of your experience with New Media Expo other than what you just wrote.

    I can understand why there is confusion and don’t expect everyone to know the full history of BlogWorld and how we purchased New Media Expo from Tim in 2008.

    Dave and I are the founders and owners of BlogWorld. We have been involved with the event from day 1. From the very first year we have been proactive in attracting female speakers and attendees to our event. It is well documented. We welcome it when anyone challenges us on this or lumps us in with other events because we know the facts are on our side.

    As of today our conference director is a woman, our director of sales is a woman, 6 out of 10 of our community track leaders are women. A half dozen women serve on speaker selection committees 4 of our keynote speakers are women, and nearly half of all our speakers are women. Not because they are women but because they are who we thought were the most qualified for that particular role.

    For anyone to suggested we are gender biased in any way is pure nonsense and ignores the well documented facts. We have no quota system and never will. Our first and last priority is quality content for our attendees.

    If we at any time turned down a speaker proposal from a woman (our submissions are 90% male and 10% female) it was not because she was a woman but for any one of several other reasons including, their content duplicated something else we already had either this year or in years past, they submitted a poor talk, we were unsure of the quality of presentation they would make due to a lack of speaking history, we felt they had an agenda other than educating our attendees, or what happens in most cases we simply do not have room to accommodate every brilliant submission we receive. We get a thousand of them formally a thousand more pitched to us every time we attend other events, and a thousand more from friends, friends of friends and other acquaintances, etc.

    Then there are the people we really want to see and hear that we reach out to directly. Please make no mistake; I am not complaining about the process, I am simply explaining it. I love my job.

  • Lindsay Maines

    Hey Deb! Great topic, and I love hearing about the consciousness you and Rick are contributing to this issue. I greatly enjoyed speaking at Blogworld as part of the “Mind of Moms” panel last year, and while my submission wasn’t accepted this year, I took it as a sign that you may already have one like it, or were mixing up the list (always a good thing, in my opinion) not as any reflection on my having lady parts.

    I pitch enough things in the course of any given day that I’ve trained myself to focus on the things that come through. They’re the ones requiring further investment on my part. That leads to more success in the places I put my energy- if I spend time worrying about why I didn’t get this gig or that, I would spend so much negative brainpower, there wouldn’t be any left for the constant pitching cycle that’s necessary for landing new opportunities. I think journalism school and the subsequent time in a newsroom trained me that way. Plenty of stories get killed or shot down, and it didn’t mean they were abysmal- it meant they weren’t exactly what the pub needed at that moment in time. And if I’m not on any particular conference roster on any given moment, it probably means my skill set or topic wasn’t exactly what the programmers needed- I find that by making it more about the event needs than my ego, I walk around happier.

    That said, when a topic I’ve submitted DOES get accepted, I do a post-mortem on what I think I did right in that proposal so it can be incorporated it into other efforts.

    Again, kudos for tackling this head on! Have a great conference- I won’t be around this year, but hope to see you next! All best, L

  • Lisa Gates

    What a great conversation. A friend on Twitter cc’d me on your article because it aligns with what I do for a living as a negotiation trainer and coach for women–and submitting a proposal to speak at Blog World is absolutely a negotiation. First, it’s a negotiation with oneself, then it’s a negotiation with others. For women, the most difficult aspect of learning to ask for what they want (and get it) is knowing their value, especially in the hands of their market (audience). So before we even get close to submitting a proposal, we have to navigate the murky waters of personal value. “Am I all that? Why would they want me? I’ve never done this before. I’ve never done it at this level. How do I know what my rate is or what I can ask for if I don’t have a track record?”

    So it is a gender issue in that we have some cultural/implicit biases to unwind, and perhaps the most pernicious bias is our own internal bias–the thoughts and beliefs we carry about our value as women. Statistics bear out that women are 70 percent less likely to ask for a raise, for example, than our male counterparts. We think if we do a good job somebody will notice and out of the goodness of their hearts and pocketbooks, give us a raise. But the truth is, if we don’t ask, we don’t get. And it’s our responsibility to wake up and turn this around.

    My 2 cents…there would be more women keynoters if more women asked.

  • Erika Napoletano

    Deb – Great post and it sparks a question…one of my business partners and I submitted a proposal directly to you via email (per a DM conversation with Rick on my query on how we could speak) and we never received a response. It was a concisely written proposal outlining not only the content but our backgrounds and qualifications as speakers.

    Shelly Kramer (@ShellyKramer) and I (@RedheadWriting) would have loved to speak at BlogWorld, hence our submission. We never heard anything after the email was sent and were disappointed that there wasn’t even a “thanks but no thanks.” Hearing from women is great and I’ll back you up on the stance that I could really care less if the panels and keynotes are more male than female. But we (boobs and all) felt we had something to bring to the table, based on our professional experiences and day to day work in the marketing industry that would benefit the BlogWorld audience. Heck – we would have even wore dresses and nice shoes and stuff 🙂

    Just curious!

  • Kimber M

    Deb, this just came to my attention! And funny enough right after a client has asked me if I want to be their personal blogger for a new product! I have benn speaking live (and on-camera) for 15 yrs in a variety of ways. This is certainly going to be a new area of focus for me. Short notice this time around but I am all for the next show! Let’s talk!!

  • Dayna Steele

    I could easily tailor Find Your Inner Rock Star for this!

  • Maya

    Hi Deb,

    It is awesome that you responded to Aliza’s post with a post yourself and thanks for all you have done as a conference organizer this year!

    I always submit proposals – as I did this year for bwe10 (two, in fact!) and I did not hear back. I understand there could be plenty of reasons for this – so I move on.

    The women-in-tech issue is very much the same – I just posted a fun picture about it since I was tired of *talking* about it – http://bit.ly/witpic 🙂

    The speaking issue and women is very much the same. I think we all need to acknowledge the biases WHEN it is constructive and ignore them when NOT. That is the ONLY way we are going to fix this problem (and looking at it some ways, it might not really be a problem) . Here is what I mean –

    – Where I DO acknowledge the issue -> As Education Director at SMCSeattle, I am constantly putting together content for our events. I am responsible for compelling content and speakers around a topic – so I go out to a number of events to find the best of speakers and the most knowledgeable people. I put together panels to bring diverse opinions and experiences together …and a part of that is making sure there are men and women on the panels. I do push women (and men) who have compelling content to share, even if they are not willing to speak – only once or twice though. I certainly do not sweat it.

    – Where I DO NOT acknowledge the issue -> As a woman speaker, entrepreneur and technologist, I get ABSOLUTELY NOTHING out of comparing myself with women alone. I need to deliver and perform well irrespective of my gender. My job is to be compelling and show compelling results, irrespective of who I am. It is about stepping up to the situation that matters.

    I commend constructive discussions and this is certainly one. So thanks Deb! I think we ALL need to do whatever we can in our various roles to make any situation better. And no, no one person or conference or committee is responsible for an issue. As long as we are doing our best to make an incremental difference, it is all good 🙂

    I will see you all at #bwe10 – am sure it will be awesome as always!

  • Del Williams

    Why do I get the feeling you left off the speakers who wanted a fee, guarantee, back of room sales, etc? The people who won’t play with you unless you pay them to do it. And secondly, I am so tired of hearing the whining about the self esteem, confidence, etc. Because all it translates too is an excuse to do nothing, and then gripe about it.

  • Rick Calvert

    I don’t know why you get that feeling Del because it hasn’t happened. We have not had one potential keynote speaker say no to us due to us not paying speaking fees.

  • Peggy Richardson

    Deb, I was part of a joint speaking proposal submitted by TheBookBroads.com. We were not selected, and we did put quite a lot of thought into what would offer real value to attendees. I’m just wondering what would define a “strong” proposal? What can we improve for next year?
    I had actually decided to submit a proposal after an in-person discussion in the hallways last year with Patti Hosking about the gender bias in speakers, and she gave me personal feedback that our topic was definitely one of interest and encouraged us to submit, which we did on time.
    Let me just be clear that I’m just speaking from a purely factual standpoint, and I’m not bothered by the fact that we were not selected, because as it happens, we’ve done a TON of speaking so far this year, and frankly, I’m looking forward to just enjoying BWE as I always have – as a delegate only. 🙂 But I’m always looking to improve, and I see a learning opportunity here, by asking you.
    Sincerely,
    -peg

  • Deborah Carney

    I had wanted to propose a panel, and know another woman that would have been a dynamite presenter on a great topic, but didn’t know when the deadlines were. I didn’t see much publicity about the speaker proposals, hopefully since we will have a company exhibiting there will be more notice sent to them earlier in the process.

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