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No Women at FITC

Every so often, the absence of women at Flash conferences gets mentioned in the Flash blogs. But still...not much changes. There's a speakers list up for FITC now, and out of over 36 speakers currently listed, guess how many are women. Zero.

Why should I, as a woman, speak or even attend a Flash conference?

FITC Toronto 2007 - The Design & Technology Festival


Why shouldn't you?

[Admin Note: comment originally posted 15 Dec 2006 01:43:36 -0800]

Cos there's loads of blokes?

If only it was the other way round :)

[Admin Note: comment originally posted 15 Dec 2006 03:21:14 -0800]

Kooky. I saw you last year and it was really good. I know for one thing that Stacey-BWC rocks too and could come up with something informative AND entertaining!

[Admin Note: comment originally posted 15 Dec 2006 04:42:54 -0800]

Because we need more strong, intelligent women to make their presence known in the development community (in general and in flash development in specific).

It's unfortunate but I think there is still a large gender barrier in the geek world where girls are under the impression that geek is bad. There may be a limited amount we can do for our current generation besides encouraging the ones that do exist to be more visible - but that visibility could also help encourage the next generation to become more involved.


[Admin Note: comment originally posted 15 Dec 2006 06:31:07 -0800]

Well first the lack of women speakers is not a comment on Flash or the conference. And I think it is strange you should make it so? But is a commentary on the amount and dare I say quality of the women who persue careers and speaking engagements in this field. If you had knowledge or subject of interest I am sure any conference would be interested in your presenting...if you want to make this a sexist thing then I say don't go! Why should you want to learn from the best , the PEOPLE with the most knowledge ?Because the evil Flash Gods are biased againset women? Go learn teach throw that crutch of oppession away...become a leader in your field and then no cares about your age, gender, color , poliical or relgious believes etc..they care that YOU can teach them something!

[Admin Note: comment originally posted 15 Dec 2006 08:40:43 -0800]

I was hoping to provoke some discussion with this post. Thanks!

Ed--Other than expense, I can't think of any reason not to go.

Brent--Thanks! I had a great time with that presentation, and the audience was one of the best I've spoken to. I'd very much like to see Stacey present as well. She's brilliant.

Mike--I guess I'm feeling that burden a little heavily...thus my post :-) But you're right, I do have an obligation to put myself out there and be more visible. It will make things easier for other women. You've also got a good point about how girls perceive themselves. Being a geek is rarely "socially acceptable" for girls. I struggled with that for a long time...still do :-)

Varmac--I really don't have a "crutch of oppression". From time to time, however, I do stop and take a look at the reality I live in. If invited to speak, and my schedule permits, I haul my self all over the place. I have even spoken at FITC, and found it to be an amazing conference.

I recently attended an event held by the computer science department I attended. Even at that event, there were women...at a higher ratio than I usually see at Flash conferences. So, what's going on? I think it's a serious question, that deserves serious examination.

As I understand it, to speak at Flash conferences, you have to submit a proposal or be a Flash Super Star. I submit my proposals. Do other women? Sometimes there is a spot in the schedule for my specialty, and my proposal is accepted. I've never been on the schedule for more general presentations, which is a shame. I'd love to talk about bitmaps, vectors, and Flash.

[Admin Note: comment originally posted 18 Dec 2006 15:49:44 -0800]

Awww.. first off thanks for the compliments guys - much appreciated.

Secondly, by not attending or deciding to close out of an event that doesn't have significant representation for what you believe in, you're further creating that divide you want to bridge. I agree with you on many fronts K - but I think that not attending is NOT the answer.

Maybe the question is more of a , why are female developers not being represented. Is it a lack of female talent? Or or they just quiet and sit back. I'm not entirely sure about that, its something we've talked about and battled. I'm not sure - I'm proud to be recognized as a female developer, but mostly because of my skills as a developer and not because I'm female. :)

[Admin Note: comment originally posted 19 Dec 2006 11:19:34 -0800]

Stacey, I agree with you that NOT attending is not a solution :-) I also agree that I want to be recognized for my work, and not my gender.

What I'd like to see, is more women speaking and attending the conferences. A little more balance would be a good thing.

[Admin Note: comment originally posted 19 Dec 2006 12:51:11 -0800]

I help book the technical speakers for FITC. Since this post there are now a grand total of 3 women on the list and I notice it doesn't have Stacey's info on there yet since she's been confirmed to speak as well.

We get hundreds of speaker proposals and I'd guess that only about 1% of them are from women. At this point we don't really actively solicit for proposals from anyone as we get so many on a steady basis.

I can't say for sure why these numbers are so disproportionate. The first web development shop I ever worked for was a team that consisted of me and 6 women, including our lead designer and developer.

However, when I look at a company like Adobe, which supplies several of our speakers, all the product managers, community managers, main developers and gurus are male. Many of the supporting roles there are held by women, just not the ones out evangelizing the products.

Or, when I look at the Flash/Flex/Coldfusion books stacked around my desk, not one of them has a female author...and book authors tend to be another major speaker source.

The only promising thing I notice is that at FlashInTO, our Toronto Flash user group, the students who attend seem to be about 50% male, 50% female. Hopefully this ratio follows them into the workplace.

What it comes down to for us is looking at the topics people are proposing and seeing where those fit into an outline for the festival. The gender split in speakers is reflective of the proposals we receive. I'm open to suggestions on how to change that. You can contact me via the contact page at fitc.ca

I invite anyone interested in speaking at a FITC event to visit http://www.fitc.ca/proposals.cfm

Unfortunately the schedule is almost full for Toronto 2007, but we have a few events coming up in 2007 and we keep these all on record for future events.

PS. "I'd love to talk about bitmaps, vectors, and Flash." -- we always welcome speakers who suggest multiple topics to us and there is a much higher likelihood they'll get in as this offers us more flexibility as to where that speaker can fit into the grand scheme of things.

P.P.S. There was also a similar discussion on Niqui Merret's blog following the recent FlashOnTheBeach conference. http://niquimerret.com/?p=41

[Admin Note: comment originally posted 22 Dec 2006 09:37:32 -0800]