The lack of female speakers at search conferences (and indeed in other fields, not to mention wider calls for diversity generally) is something which I think about a lot.
I’m not convinced I have *the answer* or even an answer I’m completely happy with, but nevertheless I feel it’s time I woman-up and throw my hat into the ring. For the purposes of today I’ll be limiting the topic to female speakers at search conferences, not because I don’t think broader calls for diversity aren’t without merit (of course they are), but simply because I want to stick to a topic I feel I can legitimately write about.
We run conferences at Distilled and as one of the individuals who works on speaker selection, I feel that there’s a particular issue which isn’t being discussed publicly right now. Many have spoken about problems in finding women who are happy to speak, or problems with fewer women pitching. I will be talking a little about this here, however there’s another issue I’m more interested in:
- Why are female speakers typically rated lower (in terms of audience feedback surveys) than their male counterparts?
I’m not sure why this isn’t talked about more. Possibly because not everyone is aware of it. Possibly because it makes us uncomfortable.
I’ll then look at the following questions:
- Do these lower ratings ‘feed the beast’ – i.e. are there fewer females speakers because of these lower ratings?
- What should we do about it?