[photo taken at a Women 2.0 Startup Weekend]
After voicing my opinion on the maleness of yet another tech conference, I ran into a friend of mine at the afterparty who told me, "I nearly picked a fight with you. That stuff is getting so boring." And upon getting back to my hotel room to check the conversation on twitter, several others suggested the same.
Yes. Boring. I'm bored of it, too. I would love us to move onto another subject. 100% agreed. But the fact of the matter is that these boring complaints actually lead to action.
It was boring when people complained about an early Future of Web Apps being an entirely male lineup, but since then, the Carsonified folks have seriously focused on making sure that their conferences feature more women, which ended up attracting more women as audience members. It was boring when, many years ago, people complained about the SXSW Interactive speakers being mostly men, but since then, Hugh Forrest and his team have taken more time to make sure women appear on stage, leading to a HUGE female attendance. It's been boring to complain to multiple conferences over the years, which led to more women on stage and in the audience. And it's really boring that the growing exposure of women in technology has led to the attraction of more young women to the technology space.
Listen. I don't like to continue to point out the conferences, articles, lists and such that lack the presence of women (or are weak in their research), but everytime I do (or someone else does), it gets a little better. Organizations like Women 2.0, She's Geeky, Women Who Tech, Women in Technology, Geek Girl Dinners and articles like Fast Company's Most Influential Women in Technology and Brian Solis' article showing how women define the social networks have emerged because of the growing conversation around the issue. And because of these articles and organizations, more women have been encouraged to strike out and do their own startups. And, from what I hear, more young women are being drawn to technology as a career.
This is far from boring to me. This is exciting and awesome. So, we keep on bringing up the boring blah blah when we see exclusion because, well, it is leading towards a pretty awesome future where I'm hoping to see a 50/50 split of men and women on stage, in articles, talking about tech, creating startups, getting funding, participating in open source and making the future of the web inclusive. I, personally, look forward to the day where I never have to bring up the subject again.
And I know there are many additional issues of diversity in the technology space. It's dominated by white heterosexual males, many of them young. The web user population is far more diverse than that (majority of users are female in North America and the largest population on the web is Asian), so it's fairly logical to say that those designing the online experience should reflect that diversity. Until that day comes, I will continue to be boring and encourage everyone else to join me in being boring, too.