What I'm Saying on Twitter

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    Where Have All The Women Gone?

    It seems as though the debate over a lack of women in prominent media speaking engagements is raging. Daily, Twitter has been host to some pretty intense discussion around this topic, and the threads only deepen when venturing outside the arena of 140 characters. Blogs, forums, and even corporate sites have begun to delve into the debate as well. Strangely enough, we KNOW the women are out there, but when new media conferences are announced, the list of speakers are mainly men. So this begs the question - where have all the women gone?
    It's too easy to call this an example of sexism - or is it? And does discrimination run deep through the entire industry? While numerous women have worked their way to the top of the media heap, Network World reports that only 8% of management roles in IT are held by women. With this number in mind, the lack of female speakers begins to make sense. In fact, the lack of female speakers may be a symptom of a more serious issue - that of persistent inequality, even in a sector that's perceived as being progressive.
    Of course, organizations that promote the profile and ongoing success of women do exist - Wired Woman is an example, and I am a proud member. The organization is brimming with veteran talent, budding hopefuls, and everything in between. But considering it's 2009, the need for such an organization is astounding . While the new media industry demolished many barriers - the gender gap still exists, and women are feeling its cold shoulder.
    I have stopped attending many industry events - specifically because I'm not interested in seeing the same speakers again and again. New media talent pools run deep, yet we're recycling the same people (men) and the same points of view (male). If social media does nothing else, it must expand our professional networks. We need to look outside our cliques and continue to break barriers that will eventually make even the most creative circles stale. Women who have achieved success in this industry are thriving, and by not sharing their stories, tremendous insight is being lost.


    1. When you look at shows like SXSW, where the panel ideas submitted are presented publicly for people to vote on, are there are lot of women suspiciously missing? i can see crying foul if women are being maliciously weeded out during an approval round in a smoke-filled room, but if women just aren't submitting proposals to begin with, that's a different story.

    2. Ryan, I agree with you entirely! The SXSW-style events are a different ball of wax - completely fair. These aside, however, there is still a void of visible females standing on podiums - while I think all points of view are valid, the imbalance is a detriment to all of us. We need a holistic view of our industry, and the unique voices of women must be part of the mix.

    3. Do you not contribute to the lack of a female voice by not attending? We shouldn't ask others to do what we are unwilling to do ourselves. Break the barriers Gina and get up there and speak! You have a interesting things to say and you should be saying them.