At TheAppGap I've blogged about the FOWA Miami technical highlights and speakers sending buzz through the auditorium. This post shares the unexpected conference moment that focused attention on the cultural issues around technology development and adoption.
Speaker Kristina Halvorson abbreviated her presentation about the importance of content in application development to bring conference head, Ryan Carson and Chris Messina to the stage for a discussion about the under representation of women at FOWA (within both the audience and as speakers.)
FOWA attendee Obie Fernandez’s conference write up reports "11 women out of 800 people registered" and these discussion highlights:
"Challenges for organizers
· Fewer women applicants
· Fewer women on circuit
· Fewer "high-profile" women speakers
The potential speaker's challenge:
· Lack of role models
· Lack of support and resources
· The girl/boy thing. In classrooms, a boy will raise his hand whether or not he knows the answer.
Girl will only raise hand if she knows the answer. (Basically it takes hubris to be a presenter.)
· Perceived "white boys" club."
"The main reason I want to mention that speech is the huge amount of criticism I've heard about it, which is something that I unfortunately expected and proves the point of the male-centric attitude that still exists in tech."
More power to Ryan Carson for allowing a center stage discussion about the lack of women at FOWA. Subsequently I’ve heard from colleagues that such lack of diversity impacts other technology focused conferences too, especially SXSW.
Bottom line: the search is on for leading women Web application developers to speak at FOWA. Send Twitters to @ryancarson tagged #tweetspeak.
Clara Shih, Faceforce developer whose “Facebook Era” book publishes in March comes to my mind as a potential FOWA presenter, as does Kaliya Young Hamlin, who nudges the evolution of Open Identity. Given Kaliya’s focus on promoting openness she has already shared her lessons about being a speaker so others can learn from them here.
Please take a moment to share your observations about women in technology, impact on organizations, and women developers' lack of presence at conferences. What are the implications and your suggestions for addressing?
~ Jenny Ambrozek