September 13, 2005
@ 02:18 AM

Shelley Powers has a post entitled Change starts at home where she points out the speaker list of the Our Social World conference is pretty homogenous (white males) and consists of the usual suspects when it comes to geeking about social software. I was quite surprised to see a comment in response to her post which stated

Shelley, you’re totally off the mark here. Firstly, there simply are not that many women working professionally on social software/blogging in the UK...Secondly, the speakers were self-selecting. Geoff who organised it put up a wiki and anyone could put their name down to speak. No women other than myself went to the effort of putting their name down and turning up... Finally, regarding ethnic minorities, you have to remember that the UK is not as ethnically diverse (and that that diversity is not as widely spread out) as the US .

I don't know about the UK but I do know that in the US, there are a lot of women in Social Software yet I keep seeing the same set of [white male] names on the speaker lists of various conferences on the topic. Given that this is the second post I've read today that points out the incongruities in the choices of geeks typically chosen as spokespeople for the social software world (the first was Phil Haack's Where are the Sociologists of Social Software) I decided to write something about it.

Just like with my Women in XML post last year, Shelley's post did make me start thinking about how many women I knew who worked with Social Software whose works I'd rather see presented than at least one of the presentations currently on the roster for the Our Social World conference. Here is my list





These women either are heavily involved in research around the sociological impact of technology and human interaction or actually work on building social software applications used by millions of people. Quite frankly, I'd rather hear any one of them speak than the typical geek you see at the average O'Reilly conference yaking about Social Software.

Unfortunately the people who really do the work that changes the world often get less publicity than the ones who just talk about it.


Tuesday, 13 September 2005 02:26:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
But not me, eh, Dare?
Tuesday, 13 September 2005 04:46:57 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I also haven't listed Mary Hodder or Nancy White. This post was something I wrote on my way out to dinner, the list isn't meant to be exhaustive.
Wednesday, 14 September 2005 15:38:38 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
that's a very good list, Dare...

but I wonder, who of that list would be willing to speak? I've been involved with BlogHer's efforts to sign women up to be speakers, and have heard a number of women express the opinion that speaking is not necessarily something they would choose to do.

I wonder, too, if some of these women would be interested in engaging in the shameless art of self-promotion similar to that of the men who are often conference speakers. Don't believe the hype when the guys say they were "just chosen" to speak places. There is often networking and getting the word out that someone likes to speak and would be willing to do it. Sometimes its not what you know but who you know.

I would actually like to speak with some of these women to see how they would feel about speaking and if they would be willing to put themselves out there as speakers. I'd also like to know if they would be willing to approach conferences/organizations and ask if they could speak about social software. Perhaps being in their faces is the only way to get recognized.
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