Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why Don't Women Present at Conferences?

Liv posted twice to her blog, asking why women don't present at conferences, and what we can do about it. Everyone knows that this immediately put a bee in my bonnet. I made a lot of suggestions about how to encourage women to participate in communities more. Now I want to get into the why.

Simply but, It's not easy being a lady in America's misogynous society. If you want a career, you're too ambitious. If you speak up, you're being 'too aggressive.' If you kick ass and take no prisoners, you're a nutcracker. If you yell, you're unbalanced. And if you negotiate, you're somehow icky.

Human beings are adaptable - once you continue to fail when you behave in the way that successful men do, you realize that there's something up. For a while, you sit in a corner and shut up, or qualify and second guess everything until the cows come home. Women don't present because they're not encouraged to.

Women are consistently cited as building relationships and making connections. Use your personal capital to push the envelope a little harder, and toss out your fear of the b-word. It's ok to ruffle feathers and make some trouble.

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