A quick flick flick through the programmes of most tech conferences will tell you what you already knew: there aren’t many women speaking on the tech circuit. If you can call social technologies ‘tech’, we do slightly better in that field, with advice on use coming from a few attractive, articulate women.
But when putting their programmes together, the organisers look around the circuit for people who’ve been on stage before with a degree of success, so the cycle’s been a hard one to break. Organisations such as Girl Geek Dinners do well to address the balance, but why should the women in tech, who have to be pretty determined to break through stereotypes – only a quarter of university places on technology courses are apparently going to women, and this stat was one given out by Facebook this week, so I suspect it’s based on US figures – be confined to the niches of women’s networking and support groups.
Suw Charman-Anderson is a social technologist and writer. Fed up with “the tech industry’s continual excuses regarding the lack of women speakers at conferences”, she founded Ada Lovelace Day – a day in which a mass of women technologists are written about, just to prove a point: women have always had place right at the forefront of technology.
This year, on October 16, the IET is hosting an event, featuring Helen Arney, Dr Suzie Sheehy, Gia Milinovich, Dr Helen Scales, Helen Keen, Dr Alice Bell, Sarah Angliss and Sydney Padua (Yes, the animator and creator of webcomic Babbage and Lovelace is a girl!). Any one of the eight would be work their place on the podium but all of them? On one day? For only a tenner? I’d grab a ticket while you still can.
And if you’re not around on the 16th, there’s also a fundraiser to carry on the good work.
Meanwhile I’m off to think about which tech leader I should research and write about for Ada Lovelace Day. Suggestions anyone?
Claire Thompson, Waves PR
13 September 2012