Why Women Should Go to Conferences, Including TechWeek: Guest

Pink Poppy Photography, Flickr

I get it. Certain people think women should not be going to tech conferences.

There have been countless articles written on the "why there aren't more women in tech" theme. It's been beaten to death. And I wouldn't have taken a position on this issue prior to attending Chicago's TechWeek -- a weeklong meeting of technology's leaders, visionaries, and other hotshots that's going on through today.

As someone who's both attended and taken an active role in a tech conference, I can state unequivocally that I could not disagree more with the notion that women and tech summits are incompatible.

Go to a tech conference, ladies.

Technology is supposed to enable. Conferences are supposed to bring like minds, not like private parts, together.

At TechWeek, women were still under-represented by many a panel. However, the conference still included a half-day conference for women, SPARK Chicago.

To suggest that all women should skip a technology conference is, simply put, ludicrous. Perhaps Ms. Breslin, author of the above-cited Forbes article, did not enjoy herself at TechWeek. Maybe she was embarrassed for women. She may think that there are better topics to level the playing field and facilitate female involvement in male-dominated industries. She's very much entitled to her opinions.

But to suggest that women steer clear of tech conferences does nothing but perpetuate gender inequality. The more women attend such events, organizers pay attention and include women in further planning. The more women there are, the more speakers know to tailor their talks to both genders--as I witnessed at a great panel on funding that featured both men and women speakers. As Lightspan Digital's Mana Ionescu recently posted, "low quality panels at tech conferences are not a male-female issue." Period.

To say that women should not go to tech conferences is like suggesting that men steer clear of cooking lessons. Let's set ourselves back 50 years, shall we?

Jill Salzman is currently growing her third entrepreneurial venture, The Founding Moms, the world’s first and only kid-friendly collective of monthly meetups for mom entrepreneurs. Having built two successful companies, she launched The Founding Moms to connect mom entrepreneurs around the globe with one another.In her spare time, Jill enjoys kloofing, traveling to small towns, and erasing her daughters’ crayon artwork from the kitchen walls.

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