Lately there has been a lot of discussion around conferences in the tech world and the amount of female representation on the panels… I don’t speak at conferences and my participation of them is always as an attendee and most of the discussion going on seems to be around what speakers can do. Which got me thinking about my role as an attendee and what I can do to help change the ratio. Is there an Attendee Pledge equivalent of the Speaker Pledge perhaps? We as attendees can vote with our feet by not attending a conference or event that doesn’t have an accurate representation of women.
ONA works hard to ensure that we have diverse representation at our conferences and we encourage others to as well. We’re starting to plan ONA13 now, and will stand by our commitment to bring in diverse voices. Last year, Jim Bettinger of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford commended ONA12:
Too many journalism conferences I have attended have been largely male, largely white when it comes to speakers and panelists. ONA executive director Jane McDonnell and Innovation/Community Engagement Director Jeanne Brooks and the program committee made sure that was not the case here. They succeeded. My rough count shows about two out of five presenters were women and one out of four were people of color. Note to other journalism conference organizers: It can be done. You just have to want to do it.
With journalism program enrollment often in the range of 60-70 percent women, it’s common for my classes to be majority female. All of them recognize the value of technological skills — they wouldn’t be taking the class otherwise.