Recognising International Women’s Day – Respond 17

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day.

Not coincidentally, today we are launching our Respond 17 conference.

The theme for IWD 2017 is Women in the Changing World of Work, which includes consideration of the gendered digital divide (particularly in developing nations) and also the opportunities for women provided by technological development.

This is particularly relevant to our industry. Since the very first conference Web Directions produced, diversity of the speakers on the stage at our events has been a core value of our business. This isn’t just talk. We work hard to ensure representation from a range of speakers from underrepresented groups on our stage.

It is therefore, with great pride that today, on International Women’s Day, we launch the line-up for Respond 17, our Front End Design conference, in which 44% of the speakers on the program, and 80% of the international speakers, are women. As a result, just a touch under 50% of the total stage presence at Respond will be women.

Fair and equal representation doesn’t just happen by accident, it takes intent and effort to ensure a diverse line-up. For years, Web Directions has invested in the local ecosystem, through speaker development training and other workshops, to encourage new and developing speakers onto our stage. We also have a track record of surfacing international speakers – many with limited profiles – and bringing them to Australia to speak.

In 2016, 40% of speakers across all of our conferences (Transform, Code, Respond and Direction) were women. This compares very favourably with other conferences in the tech industry (and we don’t use panels to boost this percentage).

Representation also includes our audience. In 2016, working with groups such as Women Who Code and Geek Girls, Web Directions facilitated a number of women focused events, including Public Speaking Training and a session called ‘Be Your Confident Self” that we developed in conjunction with Public Speaking for Life, aimed at assisting women to advocate for their own professional development.

These initiatives played a part in the tangible outcome of greater participation rates of women attending our events, with female representation increasing by 5% in 2016 compared with 2015.

We recognise that Diversity encompasses more than just gender, but today, on International Women’s Day, we can acknowledge the efforts we have made to ensure that our stage and events reflect both our company and personal commitment to gender diversity and the equal representation of women in our industry.

We look forward to welcoming you to all our events, and we hope that you will join your peers in supporting the equal participation of women in our industry by giving preference to events like Respond 17.

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