In the weeks since I blogged about the lack of diversity at tech events, the debate about women speakers has continued, with TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY attracting criticism recently for its overwhelmingly male speaker bill.
We held a positive and popular session on the issue at UKGovCamp (kindly liveblogged by Alex Blandford), and a couple of weeks ago Teacamp was devoted to Digital Women – their most attended event to date, with more than 100 people coming along (see this excellent write-up from Martin Belam).
At both of these sessions, the focus turned toward what positive, practical steps we can all take to raise the profile of women in digital, build leadership skills and increase the diversity of voices and experience in our industry debate.
One such initiative is The Women’s Room, an online database of female experts willing to give media interviews, founded after the Today Programme twice interviewed men about women’s issues, claiming they hadn’t been able to find any female experts. This has quickly grown to list over 2,000 qualified and experienced women from a wide range of fields.
After UKGovCamp, my favourite digital divas and I got together to discuss what practical steps we can take. As we see it, two of the biggest barriers to women speaking at conferences are a lack of confidence or experience, and that conference organisers naturally look to those who have a track record of speaking at previous events. So we hit upon an idea which will tackle both of these.
Introducing 300 Seconds, a new series of lightning talks that are interesting… but short. Our aim is to hear more about the personal and professional passions of our peers in the digital community. Be inspired. Learn something new. Meet. Chat. Engage.
Standing up in front of strangers and talking for half an hour can be daunting. But 300 seconds, well that’s not so bad, is it? If you aren’t used to standing up in front of people, it’s a great way to practice your presentation skills in a safe and friendly environment.
300 Seconds could also be the place to test out a new presentation you are working on. Maybe you do this all the time, but want to tell people about something new or exciting, or a new angle on a familiar topic.
We launched 300 Seconds less than two weeks ago, and have been overwhelmed by the response . The 50 attendee tickets and 12 speaker slots were snapped up within days, and we now have a waiting list of people who’d like to attend.
We want the first event to be a success, so we’re looking for a larger venue which will allow us to open the event up to more people. Can you help? Do get in touch if you can.
We’re already looking at holding further events. If you’d like to help out (with your skills, contacts, sponsorship, or venues), let us know. If you’d like to speak at a future event, or hold your own 300 Seconds event in your region, look out for details and registration on 300seconds.co.uk.