Last year, a meme developed questioning why there weren’t more female speakers at the top social media and tech conferences. I wrote about the issue for Media Bullseye, arguing that placing the onus of fixing the problem entirely on women themselves (that they should do more self-promotion, etc.) was not the best solution. Over a year later, it seems not much has changed.
This week, Michael Arrington posted a scathing article bemoaning the grief about the gender divide that Silicon Valley takes in the press, the issue of not enough women in tech, and the notion that “men” are somehow to blame for the lack of women in high-profile speaking slots. I found Arrington’s rant to be at a minimum obtuse and at the most profoundly offensive, but I will leave its dissection to others. The reason I bring it up is to highlight Geoff Livingston’s response.
Geoff, a conference organizer in the past himself, points out that while men tend to be more aggressive in seeking out speaking spots, there’s no reason conference organizers can’t make it a priority seek out women themselves. While Arrington argues that some organizers do try this method with poor results, Geoff has managed to feature women in at least half the speaking spots at his three previous conferences.
I urge you all to read his post, and share your thoughts there (or here!) on this ongoing, and interesting, topic!
Finding Female Speakers – Geoff Livingston – Geoff’s post highlights his work as the conference organizer for Blog Potomac, a social media conference in the Washington, DC area. Geoff specifically sought out female speakers for the dais at all three Blog Potomacs in recent years. “We mindfully decided that at least three of the seven speakers will be women. This seemed like the right thing to do, especially considering that there are more women in communications than men. We wanted to represent our stakeholders with a group of speakers that at least came close to matching our audience.”
The Gentle Art of the Retweet – Mitch Joel – I have enjoyed Mitch Joel’s thoughts on Twitter in the past, particular his admission to Twitter snobbery (the decision to not follow everyone back and to limit the number of people to follow), which I tend towards myself. In this post he points out that sometimes Twitter etiquette can be hard to keep up with. For example, do you think people for retweets? “The general sentiment expressed back, was that most people don’t thank others for retweets because they feel that it clutters up the twitterstream. Beyond that, a lot of people agreed that while they do not thank people for retweets, they make sure to respond to every question asked of them.”
Pitching Coach – Conversation Agent – Posts about bad pitches are de rigueur; I far prefer posts that aim to help the bad pitcher get better. Valeria Maltoni has a great post this week about thinking before you pitch. Smarter pitches equal better placements, making posts like this a must-read. “You either appeal to my audience directly by offering content and news that fit and align with things that are helpful to them, which, let’s face it, is probably quite rare. Or you are in a relationship with me not so that I publish your content, if we can call a press release that. You are in fact building that relationship to be introduced to my social graph.
Guru? Whoohoo! – Shel Holtz – In a must-read this week, Shel Holtz posted an epic takedown of all the whiners who bash anyone daring to describe themselves as a social media “guru.” It’s fair to say we’ve all been guilty of some eye rolling at such phrases, or spent time beating the “there’s no such thing as a social media expert!” drum. But Shel is right—we really need to give it a rest. “It’s not that there aren’t good posts out there about what to look for when hiring a social media consultant. These add value. But the over-the-top attacks (trampled by elephants? really?) remind me more of playground chest-thumping and high school jocks arguing about whose is bigger. The authors of these posts may be thoroughly qualified to work in social media, but it doesn’t make them professional. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to find better examples of unprofessionalism than consultants who write these savage attacks. I’m sick to death of the anti-guru meme.”