Twiistup event, on a panel with diehard Los Angeles entrepreneurs and investors Yammer CEO David Sacks explained that Southern Californians wouldn't need to have a panel on Los Angeles startups if it really did receive the same recognition and credit as Silicon Valley. This week the Bay Area is hosting two women in tech events including yesterday's Girls in Tech Catalyst Conference and upcoming weekend event She's Geeky. While both events feature major industry leaders, I can't help wondering if a separate conference for women is akin to the separate panel for Southern Californians.At the last
As per Jolie O'Dell's Open Thread on Women in Technology, we know that gender separation between web professionals is a controversial topic. In a tech community that often identifies as a meritocracy, we asked three event organizers why the industry needs female-centric events.
The Girls in Tech Catalyst ConferenceCassie Phillipps has helped produce a number of tech events including Failcon, San Fran MusicTech Summit and now the Girls in Tech Catalyst Conference.
When asked why she saw the need for a women's tech conference she replied, "The opportunities for women in technology companies are still extremely sparse and our conference is one way to help women build confidence and create a platform for their ideas to be heard. By putting on this event I know we've identified some of the best women in the field and we've likely tripled the list of good female speakers for other tech conferences."
BlogHerSpeaking as a panelist at yesterday's conference, Elisa Camahort Page is a veteran when it comes to mobilizing women. Page started the BlogHer conference and quickly turned her popular event into a revenue-generating blogging network with more than 20 million unique visitors per month.
Says Page, "We started BlogHer in 2005 to answer a question we thought had to die, namely: 'Where are the women bloggers?' The truth is that women are more than half the population, more than half the voters, more than half the Internet users and about half the bloggers. Moreover, women control more than 80% of the household spending. And yet women are not represented to anywhere near that degree in *any* hall of power from industry, to politics, to the media. So until that day, we see a lot of value in our mission to shine a spotlight on the great work of women, and serve our mission of creating opportunities for women to pursue."
She's Geeky UnconferenceKaliya Hamlin is well-known for her work as the co-founder of the Internet Identity Workshop. ReadWriteWeb had the pleasure of working with Hamlin at the ReadWriteWeb Real-Time Summit and when she's not facilitating our events, she's producing and facilitating her own. Hamlin launched the 2-day long She's Geeky unconference as a place for women in technology to network.
She suggests several reasons why women are under-represented as tech leaders including job descriptions which deter women by asking for typically male qualities and the potential isolation of being one of few women on a mostly male team. She cites Clay Shirky's Rant About Women in suggesting that women underrate themselves and lack role models, while men proactively promote themselves. Hamlin suggests that events and in-person meetings between women in tech fill the gap for role models.
She says, "I think the world would look a lot different if half the developers were women. Information technologies are shaping the future and if women are not active participants in the product design and development, then their perspectives are not included and it won't work for them."
Hamlin points out that many of the first modern programmers - those working on the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC)- were women. For a look at some of today's successful founders and technology professionals, she points to the Women 2.0 list of founder successes.
"Young girls need to be encouraged to study the basic courses that lead to careers in tech. It's still not the "organic" choice for them or the career channel encouraged by adults."
As part of her quest to provide positive female role models in tech, Hamlin is showcasing some of the best female technology groups at a booth at South by Southwest including DevChix, LinuxChix, Anita Borg Institute and Women 2.0. To participate your group can visit the She's Geeky SXSW page. To purchase tickets for this weekend's She's Geeky event, register here.
Photo Credit: Woodley Wonderworks