Only one in five tech conference keynotes are given by women, study finds

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Only one in five tech conference keynotes are given by women, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by Ensono™, a leading hybrid IT services provider, also found that 70 per cent of women surveyed who have sat on a panel at a tech conference reported being the only woman.

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 report also found that one in four women have experienced sexual harassment at a tech conference.

The benefits of tech conferences becoming more inclusive are clear, with 76 per cent of women more likely to attend a conference with a keynote speaker, panellist or other programming that features a woman.

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.

She said, “The lack of female speakers at industry conferences is a quantifiable picture of how women are underrepresented.”

“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.”

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.

Speaking about the recommendations, Lisa Agona, CMO of Ensono said, “It’s our hope that members of the tech community encourage their companies to take part in this opportunity for change — whether they are a part of senior leadership or just starting their career.”

“At Ensono, we fully support our female associates and stand with them as we progress toward gender parity in the tech industry.”

Alison Simpson
About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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