One of the biggest issues that we are aware of in women’s career progression we believe is due to the lack of their presence in the industry and visibility of opportunities. We know that this is partly due to lack of women speaking or attending conferences, whilst we do not condone getting the ‘gender card’ to be accepted to speak at a conference we are actually aware that this isn’t due to the quality of women speakers but more due to a lack of them coming forward and submitting papers.
The issue comes from years of conferences being so male dominated that it makes it uncomfortable to attend – believe me as I have been there – normally in hardware I will be lucky to see as many as three women in a sea of 250 men.
That coupled with the fact that women attendees need to have great confidence to approach an unknown male, generally I never get approached by men to speak to – in fact eye contact is difficult in many cases as I assume men do not want to be noticeable in a crowd as much as we don’t. Women don’t have a choice as they are noticeable by their obvious gender but for men the choice of not engaging with the only women allows them to blend in more.
In reality the women braving the conference scene are normally pretty clued up and interested in the subject (believe me they wouldn’t attend and be in this position for no reason!) so we are looking at how to solve this issue.
Currently we are working with a couple of conferences in Bristol, the first being BrisTech who are working hard to engage more women speakers this year in the hope that more women speakers will encourage more women to attend.
We identified firstly that the date of the conference being in half term week would instantly discourage women who may have child support and they are going to move it to another date in November.
We have worked with them on the fact that the call for papers may be misleading or the wording not allowing women to identify as possibly matching the criteria for papers – this is what we call blockers.
We are aware from previous conferences that the more female speakers involved the bigger the female turnout so we are working hard with them to identify possible women speakers. (If we know there will be women there and we will not be the only one then its more comfortable to attend – right!)
They are also offering up the WTH ~ Bristol a stand and some free tickets to attend to our members.
So if you are interested in attending or want to know more about the event please feel free to speak to us and we can put you in touch with the organisers.
.. we are also working with 3 other proposed conferences to do the same .. we’ll tell you more when we have those details.