Burningbird: Change starts at home
There is a fantastically, marvelous comment thread over on Shelly's blog, Burningbird � Change starts at home. Shelly started by pointing out the apparent disconnect between a social software conference in the UK called "Our Social World" and the lack of women speakers.
Shelly gives us another piece in the pattern that exists strongly in the online interaction world. I've been thinking pragmatically about this issue of getting more diversity (in every sense of the word) into conferences. First challenge is finding the people - we know the same group and it is hard to find others. SO things like the Speaker's Wiki that Mary Hodder initiated after Blogher matters. But there is the marketing challenge. (By marketing I mean matching up an event with those who want to attend it and can bear the cost of it - cash, in kind, time, travel, etc.) It is much easier to attract participants with "known" or "marquee" speakers, even if they have been heard before. So how do we market the new voices? How do we open up ourselves to new experiences? How do we blend?
Anyway, the comment thread after Shelly's post is fantastic. The organizers of the conference in question jumped in. People got all heated up. People found points of agreement and disagreement. I'm hoping the next phase will be that people start talking about potential action to help folks like these conference organizers who didn't get the diversity of speakers (and in this, I'm speaking far beyond gender ratio to also getting some new voices as the relatively small set of insiders is getting pretty repetitive - and yes, we still love you guys, but we want to hear other people now.)
blogher, unconferences, usthem, idontknow