Solving the gender gap in tech conferences, one Google search at a time

14 Apr 201621 Shares

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It’s sad, really, just how many high-powered, otherwise apparently intelligent event organisers can struggle to do simple tasks, like emailing, using search engines and browsing Wikipedia. Luckily, learn-to-search.com is here to help.

Learn-to-search.com takes event organisers by the hand, leading them through the byzantine maze that apparently exists when trying to find women to speak at their conferences.

It’s no secret that tech conferences tend to have abysmal gender diversity among speakers and panellists. A 2015 Fast Company article put the numbers at 3:1 in favour of men. Learn-to-search.com says that, in 2012, only 7pc of male-organised tech conferences featured male and female speakers in equal numbers.

The tech sector isn’t the only one that fails to achieve gender parity at conferences – leading to the creation of stellar sites like Congrats, you have an all male panel! – but it’s certainly one of the worst.

While efforts abound to try to bring gender representation closer to a 50/50 split, all too often event organisers fall back on one simple protestation: ‘There simply aren’t enough talented women in tech for us to find.’

And I can understand their struggle! It’s not like there are numerous websites and organisations that could inspire lists of diverse speakers or anything. I imagine resources like Black Female Coders, Latinas in Computing, Articulate and 50/50 Pledge (among many others) probably wouldn’t be any help in this situation.

And, surely, if there were any quality women speakers out there, someone else would have found them by now…

So, what can be done to help our floundering friends in conference booking?

Learn-to-search.com, founded and operated by Divya Manian and technology writer Joanne McNeil, takes the bullet for the rest of us, placing on its own shoulders the Sisyphean task of teaching these poor event organisers how to overcome the obstacles preventing them from finding women speakers.

Their lesson is simple:

  • Learn to write an email.
  • Learn how to enter words into popular search engines.
  • Learn to browse Wikipedia.
  • Learn to empathise.

Seems pretty simple to me.

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Kirsty Tobin served as Careers Editor at Siliconrepublic.com up to August 2017

editorial@siliconrepublic.com