The debate regarding the lack of women speakers at conferences continues. I have added to this conversation in the past, and a few people have picked up on that post during this current round of debate. On that post Lori gives some of the reasons why she doesn’t speak at conferences often. One reason being,
Lack of confidence. I always assume that because I’m not Eric Meyers (or Drew McLellan, for that matter), I have no business talking about CSS. I forget that though I know less about it than many gurus, I know more about it than probably 75% of attendees (at some conferences, anyway).
Elsewhere, Nicole Simon describes how many women are not comfortable in ‘selling’ themselves, how they are less likely to approach conference organizers to get themselves a speaking slot.
Other than the logistical reasons I have described in other posts these are the real reasons why I don’t put myself forward to speak. When it comes down to it, I’m not all that sure what I have to offer to the sort of high profile conferences being discussed.
I’m not someone who has ever come up with an outstanding new CSS technique, I don’t design beautiful things, nor have I launched the killer app. When I write I come from the perspective of a regular web developer. I write as someone who has taught herself, is still teaching herself, who sometimes wonders how she ended up doing this, and certainly doesn’t deserve any kind of guru status. My real skill as a writer is the ability to take all that ‘stuff’ I have sweated over until I worked it out, and explain it, in simple terms. That is great for books and magazine articles, but is not what my peers want to see on the conference stage.
That said, I’m sure there are plenty of smaller scale events where a person (a woman even!) who can put forward a common sense, real-world approach to standards based web development might be a useful person to have on board. I have to admit responsibility in not being as self promotional as perhaps I could be on that front.
Perhaps the message that conferences organizers could take note of from these exchanges is that there may be good people out there who would need some encouragement to come and speak, would need to know that their input is valuable. I love Meri’s idea of successful speakers mentoring and encouraging others. It may be that some of the quieter voices out there just need some help to get started.