Tony Karrer at eLearning Technology, musing about Diversity in the Blogosphere, added a comment asking if “speakers at training conferences skews male or female? Keynote speakers I believe skew male. Do conference organizers pay attention to that when they select speakers, i.e., strive for diversity?”
My guess would have been, “It depends.” So I did a little surveying. Here’s a slight rehash of my reply to Tony:
I think there’s some logical correlation. For example, many speakers I’ve seen are vendors or consultants; for them, speaking can be a form of marketing, even if they’re not shilling. (You know the difference, and so does your audience.)Regarding gender, I just looked at the “sessions and learning activities” at the 4/06 eLearning Guild gathering in Boston. (Picked them only because I found them first.) I counted based on name, checked the photo when unsure:
- One male: 57
- One female: 15
- Two males: 9
- Two females: 6
- One male / one female: 10
- Larger groups (3 or more): 4, of which one was all female
My hunch was that the 4:1 ratio of men to women in the “one presenter” category is skewed more heavily male than at, say, ISPI’s annual conference… so I looked at the educational sessions from ISPI 2007.
No photos, so I guessed based on name:
- One male: 45
- One female: 40
- Two males: 14
- Two females: 16
- One male / one female: 26
- Three males: 6
- Three females: 1
- Three or more, mixed: 6
For ISPI, I had a few singles and half a dozen pairs for which I couldn’t guess sex based on name, so those aren’t in the total. I may have counted a woman as a man, or vice-versa (e.g., I took “Jody” to be male), but that wasn’t so often as to upset the overall pattern.
I would have said, with no evidence, that eLearning leans more to technology than ISPI does, and therefore would have been somewhat more heavily male. But I didn’t expect these numbers.I’m not sure what they mean, really, and they’re just two instances. The difference between the two conferences, however, is striking.