this panel from TechCrunch. It's a "Women in Tech" panel. As Workplace Diva states, it's very cringe worthy. The host of the panel apparently didn't think out of three days and what I count as 60+ panels there should be one devoted to women.
Only on a panel of "women in tech" would they have a host who thought they didn't need that panel. Then one woman asked that they expand their definition for what a woman in tech is, mentioning entrepreneurs who don't necessarily have a STEM (that's Science Technology Engineering Math) degree. I died a little inside when another brought up the "women they know" really are interested in more to their life, a work life balance.
And finally to the host of the panel who thinks women should only be given positions as speakers due to merit I'll assume her ignorance is because she's worked for some hippie social networking bs site. Dudes think women don't go into STEM because...it's women's fault. They assume we'd rather "work with people" because we're good at it, or would rather have babies and raise families. That the low numbers in the field are because choices we made, nothing to do with societal expectations or the men themselves. They think when we don't get promoted it's because we're not as good at that thing as they are.
And it all comes down to visibility which I have talked about again and again. If men don't see women in tech they think we either don't want to do it, or aren't capable of doing it. Showing a few "token" women at these things gives them a few more examples of people who want to do the work and they can make their own internal judgment as to whether the women are capable. But more often than not, the "token" (especially at a large conference like this) will be more than capable of standing amongst her male peers. And every time someone sees a capable woman succeeding in tech some dude at a company thinks "huh, well if that woman is okay, maybe not all women are incompetent uterus-holders, maybe i'll hire one" or "huh, that woman sounds a lot like my employee, Alice, and while I never thought Alice was real bright maybe she's okay and I'll promote her to Peon II next cycle." And maybe some high school student is watching the conference at home and thinking about what she wants to do in college: software engineering or art history? And she sees these women and thinks, well maybe I won't be all alone if I go into that field, maybe it is something women can succeed at. That doesn't mean women need their own panel, just they should be represented there. Someone should be making an effort that if 10% of people working in tech are women (probably higher given not all the men they had on were technical experts) then 10% of the panelists should be women. If you're not accomplishing that it means you're only asking the same people every year, or only asking your friends or friends' friends, and other networks of women and minorities are not even being given the opportunity. And if you had to ask 3x as many men as agreed to show up to the panel, that means you need to ask 3x as many women or minorities who you want to be there. Yes women are busy and they may say no. But men say no too. So if you want women and minorities there, you will have to ask more people than will accept.
Maybe I'm way out of line here but I just can't help thinking if people made slight efforts they'd get huge gains. Everyone on the panel seemed to agree more women working in tech meant a more diverse group and meant a better team and better product. But maybe people only say that and don't actually believe it? Actions speak louder than words.