I love talking about, and listening to the things I am passionate about (who doesn’t?). I love sharing my knowledge and learning about others. I love conferences. It’s a great place to learn new things, validate your knowledge, connect with like-minded and come back home with a bunch of things you want to try out and work on.
So it happens that one of the things on “my list of things to do in life” is/was to present at a conference. I happily and proudly checked this off last weekend.
I had the pleasure to speak with a smart colleague at FITC’s “Web Performance and Optimization” conference in Toronto, this past weekend.
Our topic was similar to the one we submitted (and got accepted) to the O’Reilly’s Velocity conference in San Clara this summer. I’m so beyond excitement to be presenting similar things (and more) to all those great and talented web performance enthusiasts in a few months.
Allow me to give a brief recap of the presentation from last Saturday – the way I experienced it.
It was a small conference, around 70 people attending, probably ~7 of those attendees were women – that’s it, not more! Well, not a huge surprise to me, I’m used to that from my time as a Computer Science student 10 years ago. But is the ratio still so drastic? Oh, and in addition, I was the only female speaker that day.
While I was listening first (and later presenting myself), I noticed that most male presenters had a very specific way of selling and promoting themselves – They all were very confident (Not jealous, good for you, boys!). A supportive and beautiful person on my side that day, full of great constructive criticism, noted something after I was done presenting. She confirmed something that I had honestly (and secretly) already felt, she said I could have been more promoting myself “..like the guys did”. It’s true, as the only woman speaking that day, I could have represented the female minority better by maybe emphasizing my successful web performance results to those 63 men and 7 women that day. Well, it’s not that I wasn’t passionate about my topic – Maybe it’s just that women share their success in a different, less self-selling way and/or are less confident.
I’d like to quote something from Geek Feminism now:
So! Getting women to submit content: easy? Um. When I’d talk to men about the conference and ask if they felt like they had an idea to submit for a talk, they’d *always* start brainstorming on the spot. I’m not generalizing — every guy I talked to about speaking was able to come up with an idea, or multiple ideas, right away…and yet, overwhelmingly the women I talked to with the same pitch deferred with a, “well, but I’m not an expert on anything,” or “I wouldn’t know what to submit,” or “yes but I’m not a *lead* [title], so you should talk to my boss and see if he’d want to present.”
Ok! So I guess I am not imagining all of this. It really seems to be true that men are generally more confident than women when it comes to work related areas where they can promote themselves.
The beautiful thing about life is that you (can) always learn and get better.
And to be honest, my observation at FITC’s conference has even more encouraged me to submit call for speakers forms! I enjoyed presenting! Like a lot – You ain’t stoppin’ me now.
Below the slides from our talk on Saturday
Additional resources in regards to women in tech and female speakers