There is a ton of buzz floating around the industry about an issue of sexism at technology conferences and yea, search marketing conferences.
It probably started off when Marty Weintraub released some industry data on female representation at online marketing conferences. You should check out the statistics and details.
I first ran into this when I ran my first SMX Israel show. Miriam Schwab nicely pointed out that in our 3 panel session for the day, none of the speakers were women. I had no clue, I honestly did not even think about it. But when I learned of it, I was embarrassed and ashamed. That was back in 2008 and I promised to not make that mistake again. Since then, we have had plenty of women speakers on panels but still, the men speakers do dominate and are on more panels.
Fast-forward five years later and it is even more of an issue. Yes, there are plenty of qualified women speakers. Heck, the SEO industry is made up of founding legends such as Kim Krause Berg, Heather Lloyd-Martin, Christine Churchill , Barbara Coll, Debra Mastaler, Jessie Stricchiola, Laura Thieme, Shari Thurow, Dana Todd, Amanda Watlington and Jill Whalen (I hope I didn't miss anyone). These are all legends in the SEO space, without them, SEO would not be what it is today.
That being said, it is not an issue with the founding "mothers" of SEO. Everyone reading this post needs to understand the SEO community and space would be nothing without these women.
The issue is how some (maybe many) women are treated at these conferences. I read Lisa Barone's post named Sexism in tech and I was completely thrown back. How can this be happening? How can anyone push themselves on someone else. We are professionals not animals. And for this to happen to thought leaders in our industry, let alone anyone attending a search conference. It makes me disgusted. For them to not want to come to the conference, share their knowledge with the rest - makes the industry a worse place.
Let me share all the posts I've found on this topic in the past few weeks:
- Female Online Marketing Speaker Stats: 13 True Evangelists Discuss The Data
- Sexism In Tech: We're Not Making It Up
- Are you Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?
- Fighting Sexism at Digital Conferences
- Raising Shakespeare’s Sister (Or Why We Need to Talk about Female Speakers in Search)
Those are some of the stories. We, as an industry, need to take care of our people and make sure we are all comfortable attending networking events where we can make a more knowledgeable and smarter industry that we are all proud of.