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Getting More Women to Tech Conferences Starts with the Businesses That Send Them

1 59 25
21.03.2019

A public restroom isn’t always the best place for conversation, but at AWS: Reinvent 2017, it was the perfect setting to start an important one.

I never intended my experience to attract so much attention, but the scene in front of me was way too telling not to share: At a conference with more than 40,000 attendees, the women’s restroom was almost completely empty. Not only did the photo I snapped resonate on Twitter -- where women replied by sharing their own barren tech-conference restroom photos -- but news outlets like Tech.co quickly joined in.

Related: Conferences: Are They Worth Your Precious Startup Time?

Indeed, Tech.co identified my observation as indicative of a larger problem: Where exactly are women at tech conferences?

As it turns out, this question is profoundly more difficult to answer than it would seem. Tech conferences, and the tech industry in general, do not have a stellar reputation for gender equality. Robot strippers, sexist presentation decks and booth babes have occurred at conferences and have grabbed headlines; we’re all familiar with statistics that show women hold only 20 percent of technical jobs.

However, it would take a more objective look at the makeup of tech conferences -- and a wider poll of the women attending them -- to reveal how inequitable these events truly are. That’s........

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