Simone Brummelhuis has an interesting post over at theNextWeb asking why there are so few senior women executives speaking at the various technology conferences that occur across the country each year. Out of the 200 speakers scheduled for the upcoming Web 2.0 conference, only 20 are women — that is 10% (similarly there are two women presenting out of twenty keynotes).
But perhaps more worrying than the figures quoted above, Simone also points out that of the women who are speaking at the event, half have still not yet filled out their profile information — and we are just days away from the opening of the conference. Let’s be clear — this is not the case for the men who have nearly all completed their profiles, listed their accomplishments and pitched their expertise. So what is it with our women leaders who continue to not put their best foot forward? Rather than looking towards the work-life balance debate (which I believe is a misnomer anyway), it seems there must be something else at play. Surely these smart, savvy, organized women leaders would not overlook such details.
Back in 2006, Carol Hymowitz, warned in the Wall Street Journal, “[un]like their male counterparts, women must learn to stop listing their shortcomings when an opportunity arises …”, but it seems that this lesson has not been heeded. Not only are women barely represented at the country’s leading technology conference, but those that are have fallen silent around their personal brand (perhaps there is still more to learn from Angelina Jolie). And while I have my own theory around what is going on here, I would love to hear your view — what is it that prevents even our leading women stepping out of the shadows and speaking for themselves?
Nina nets it out: As much as leadership is about vision, it is also about details. And while we may be on top of the business facts, we also must constantly set our own personal agenda as a benchmark for those that follow in our footsteps.
Interesting observation Nina. As women, we do need to seize opportunities and be ready to step into the unknown. Perhaps sometimes we try too hard to defend and protect, when we need to be stepping forward into new adventures instead.
I know that with your professional experience you too see people, women in particular, who operate from a defensive posture. I believe that workers, whether male or female, must be as assertive as the situation calls for. Why should one gender have an advantage with regard to self-promotion or putting their expertise out there for others to benefit from?
I hope your experience with the SAP Global rollout went smoothly!!
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Your observation about participation makes me wonder:
What is the percentage of women in positions that would be invited to speak at the conference? Is it more than 10%?
I genuinely don’t know the answer, although my day-to-day business interactions tell me it’s more than 10%. . .but now my curiosity for specifics has been aroused. The answer might lead to other meaningful insights.
I am not certain the answers to your questions, but instinctively and as you yourself note, I believe it is more than 10%. There are some interesting statistics contained in this document which I found useful:
http://www.txwsw.com/pdf/tom_meredith.pdf and I hope you do as well.
Enjoy, and thanks for reading and commenting!
A quick look at the .pdf tells me to take a longer look. . .