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Ladies in Tech wants more women speakers

New site encourages more women to participate at tech conferences

Happy Cog interactive development director Jenn Lukas and designer Yesenia Perez-Cruz have launched Ladies in Tech, aiming to encourage more women to participate at conferences.

Lukas’s first article on the site recalls her experience at JSConf, where almost all the women left after an announcement for a ‘Significant Others’ track that largely involved touring around the city. Later, having felt "genuinely lonely and out of place as a woman", for the first time in her "nerd life", Lukas took a five-minute ‘lightning talk’ slot, asking those in the crowd to encourage more women to get involved.

Lukas then asked herself if it was hypocritical to put the work on others when she had the power to submit something herself and help contribute to the solution. She recounted how she subsequently submitted a talk, got accepted and registered the ladiesintech.com domain. The site now aims to assist other women in speaking at tech conferences to reduce the “substantial discrepancy between male and female speakers in the tech community”.

The focus of the site will be “on the positive and providing ways for women to empower themselves to become experienced speakers”. Specific goals include featured articles, resources, monthly topics and a message board.

Lukas and Perez-Cruz said: “When we were coming up with the main goals of the site, we found that keeping it small and specialised to begin with made the most sense because we're really aiming at creating a strong community. Once we feel like we have a solid, close-knit community, we certainly may expand the resources, so stay tuned!”

The site founders added they were keen for both women and men in the industry to get involved: “We're looking for seasoned female speakers to share their success stories to encourage aspiring speakers to take the leap. We're also looking for submissions for our resources: a curated collection of books, sites and other resources that have helped speakers.”

If you’re not yet a speaker, but would like to get involved in the community, there’s a message board you can use to talk to other women that are looking to improve their speaking skills. Men in the industry can “help by spreading the word and recommending other ladies to write”.

Other imminent plans include ‘Monthly Topics’, which will “help women that are interested in speaking but don't know where to start”. A topic will be supplied, along with a set of parameters, and short presentations will be prepared and shared, in person, through Skype or on the Ladies in Tech Vimeo channel. There will also be “more articles from radical ladies” and information regarding the project’s meet-up group.

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