Have you attended a technology conference or speaking series and noticed the gender parity within the audience? How about on the panels or the keynote speaker lists?
Over the past year, I’ve attended a number of conferences within the fields of technology, marketing, and business. I was startled to see so few women represented. In the crowd, there was often one table or two of women, all clumped together and isolated from everyone else. Those women who were part of the panels, were often asked the questions about gender in the workplace, as if they were token members
And this is just women as a whole gender. I can count the number of women of colour who took the stage on one hand. While feminism may have been the word of the year in 2017, STEM fields still have a long way to go in achieving gender and race equality.
When I read about ‘Women and Color’, a directory of women and people of colour who are available to speak at such conferences, I was floored! How has this database existed for two years without people knowing about it?
The directory was created by a product designer named Mohammed Asaduallah, who was just as frustrated as many women to find the lack of diversity within the tech industry. Asaduallah and a team of volunteers help maintain the site by adding in new profiles of women in Toronto. The profiles include a photograph, job title, a short description of the person’s expertise through tag words, contact information, and a link to their Twitter account.
Asaduallah hopes to grow Women and Color and add profiles from cities across Canada and even venture into the United States.
We’re opening up Women and Color to cities across Canada and US in 2018.
— Women and Color (@womenandcolor) November 26, 2017
At your next conference or speaking series, perhaps consider reaching out to one of the numerous qualified women in this directory. It’s time to stop using women as “tokens” at technology events and start seeing them as the qualified and capable experts they are.