So, there's a conversation on a couple of women's blogs (linked to below) right now that highlights a concern about the lack of women on the session agenda at PodCamp, and now I've decided to weigh in with my own thoughts, as I've been thinking about this a lot in the past couple of days. I'm really upset with the suggestion (even in the faintest) that the organizers of PodCamp did not do their best to make sure women were on the agenda. I simply cannot even begin to see how this could be true.
To read the posts that got me thinking, click on the links below:
Podcamp Boston, lack of women speakers, and bringing things to neutral
I value knowledge, not gender
The key organizers of the event, one in particular Michelle Wolverton aka ChelPixie to most of us, was a rock star as far as I'm concerned in bringing this all together. After reading comments from Chris Penn, I've just learned that the Director of Operations for PodCamp is also a woman, Whitney Hoffman. If you ask me - the two heaviest lifters of the entire event were women - and were again and again acknowledged and thanked by the likes of CC Chapman, Chris Brogan, Chris Penn and many others during the event. All the rest of us had to do was show up and converse! Anything beyond that was optional and encouraged, in my opinion.
While I wondered why there were not more women facilitating discussions at PodCamp, it did not for one minute cross my mind that it was in any way, shape, or form, the fault of or neglect of the organizers of PodCamp. I've never been to PodCamp before but - to be blunt - it was as easy as can be to find out how to lead a discussion on the website. The link to "Lead a Discussion!" is right along the main navigation at the top for every page. And I clicked it because I’m nosy like that, and as soon as I read what it was all about, I thought “Hey, I can do that and it'll be fun!”
What did cross my mind, however, is that it's a shame that more women didn't volunteer themselves to share their knowledge by signing up to facilitate a discussion that would show up on the agenda. But, sometimes life happens, and priorities change and maybe some women meant to sign up but never got around to it. Maybe that’s what happened, maybe not. I don’t know. And to be honest, I didn’t give it that much thought. Until now.
I didn’t give it much thought because I don’t value information coming from women more than information coming from men, or vice versa. I value information coming from knowledgeable people who converse with me, share their knowledge, and ask for mine in return. I value conversation.
We always have choices
I really believe that. I chose to click that button, fill out a discussion topic and facilitate what turned out to be a fantastic discussion. Not because I’m a woman. That didn’t even cross my mind. I did it because I wanted to help people who are where I have been and I wanted to learn from them in the process. And I'm thankful for it because I learned a lot from the folks in that discussion. And in the end, that's what it's all about - not the claim to fame that I led a discussion - the fact that I learned something new and hopefully helped some others do the same.
Others chose not to click that button, and didn't end up on the formal agenda. But you know what - that's ok, too. There were still opportunities to get together at PodCamp, and many people I talked with did just that, including the bloggers referenced above.
Being a woman
The list of obstacles I've overcome is way to long to even begin listing them here, but suffice it to say that being a woman has never driven my choice - or worse yet – dissuaded me - to participate in something I was passionate about. Never. I probably have my own mother to thank for that. She instilled in me that anything is possible if I just put my mind to it, and I believe her to this day.
Did being a woman influence my decision to present at PodCamp? Nope. Not in the least. No more than being a woman influenced my decision to attend.
What I don't understand is how not clicking that button was someone else's fault other than your own. Man or woman, social media guru or newbie, you had a choice to click the button. If you didn’t, that’s your fault, not anyone else’s.
When we choose to box ourselves into a corner and stop pushing ourselves to be the best we can be – whether facilitating a discussion at PodCamp or anything else – we’ve essentially thrown in the towel and just about guaranteed our own failure. Why would you want to do that to yourself?
Chris Penn just made an interesting post with a great quote that I’m stealing:
Me? I'll argue against them any day because the only thing that limits me is me.
I think that’s a perfect note to close on.