In the “Speak Up: Bringing More Women’s Voices to Tech Conferences” report, IT Service provider Ensono surveyed 500 women across the U.S. and U.K. who attended a tech conference in their careers to uncover their experiences and attitudes toward the representation of women at tech events. Ensono also audited three years’ worth of keynote and standalone speaker line-ups from 18 major technology conferences around the world to determine the ratio of women to men.
The inspiration for the study came from Ensono Director of Public Cloud Product Lin Classon’s experience at a tech conference. She tweeted a picture of an empty women’s restroom, highlighting the lack of women at the event and also the larger issue of the industry’s gender gap.
“The lack of female speakers at industry conferences is a quantifiable picture of how women are underrepresented,” Classon said. “The industry still has a long way to go, but it’s research like this that provides companies with data and tools to initiate change.”
Between the survey around women’s experiences at tech conferences and the audit uncovering the number of keynote presentations given to women, here are some of the top findings from the report:
- Only 25 percent of tech conference keynotes in the last three years were women.
- Seventy percent of women surveyed who have sat on a panel at a tech conference report being the only woman.
- One in four women have experienced sexual harassment at a tech conference.
- Seventy-six percent of women are more likely to attend a conference with a keynote speaker, panelist or other programming that features a woman.
- There was a five percent increase in the number of female speakers in tech conference lineups from 2016 to 2018.
In addition to the findings, the report outlines recommendations for companies to assume responsibility and commit to concrete, actionable change. Some of the key strategies suggested include internally promoting speaking opportunities at tech events, building training programs to advance speaking skills, establishing a set of criteria that determines company participation in an event based on its level of inclusivity, and creating an internal code of conduct for off-site events.