watching a virtual conference on a laptop, zoom call, video call, virtual events

Virtual events could be a step in achieving greater inclusivity for women in tech if biased features maintained by in-person conferences are eliminated, according to new data.

Ensono, a leading hybrid IT services provider, today released the findings of its second annual research report, “Speak Up: Redesigning Tech Conferences With Women in Mind.

As digital events have become the new normal due to the impact of COVID-19, the report signals how virtual conferences can provide a stepping stone for women to achieve gender parity in the tech industry if biased conference amenities are eliminated. For women of colour, this disparity is even greater, and companies are responsible for diversity and inclusion efforts that challenge routine procedure.

The report found that 71 per cent of women who have given a keynote said conferences are not designed with women in mind. The report also found that on average, women of colour only make up eight per cent of keynote speakers at tech conferences over the last three years. 61 per cent of the women surveyed said their company is more likely to send a man to a tech conference than a woman.

Ensono surveyed 500 women across the US and UK who attended a tech conference in 2019 to uncover their experiences surrounding discrimination based on gender, race and sexual orientation at industry events. The report also includes an audit of the same 18 major technology conferences as last year’s report to identify change in the representation of female keynote speakers at tech conferences.

Speaking about the report, Meredith Graham, Senior Vice President of Culture and People Experience at Ensono, said, “This year’s report comes at a tipping point for the tech industry, and the spirit of change has never been stronger.”

“While we never could have predicted how 2020 would unfold, now is the time to implement change and create cultures that champion diversity and inclusion, not only in tech but across industries.”

“One of the organisers thought I was there to refill coffee — I was actually giving a keynote,” said an Ensono survey respondent.

The report also outlines data surrounding the lack of accommodations at tech events for women, like rooms for nursing mothers, as well as biased design features, like podiums or projectors sized for much taller men. It also provides actionable takeaways for companies to better equip their female associates to attend both in-person and virtual events, such as investing in internal resources that vet conferences and transmit attendee feedback.

“Although the overhaul of in-person conferences has increased the opportunity for women to gain representation at tech conferences and have better experiences, it doesn’t stop there,” said Lin Classon, vice president of product management at Ensono. “The industry still has a long way to go, but it’s research like this that provides companies with data and tools to initiate change.”

WeAreTheCity covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in business, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.