Ladies in Tech is giving away a ticket to Blend Conference in Charlotte, NC taking place Sep 5-7, 2013! Thanks to Yesenia Perez-Cruz who is presenting at the conference and super awesomely providing the ticket for giveaway!
We are also super pumped to have a Q&A with Bermon Painter, the brain behind Blend Conference. Bermon shared with us some insights to putting together a gender-diverse conference lineup as well as some tips for aspiring speakers! Check out the great advice and then read on below to find out how to win the ticket and also to learn about a special discount for Ladies in Tech readers!
A Q&A with Bermon Painter, organizer of Blend Conference
Q: Tell us about Blend Conference!
Blend Conference is a 3-day generalist conference in glorious Charlotte, NC. Each day will have 3 tracks covering user experience design, visual design, and development. We also aren’t allowing devices (phone, tablets, or computers) in the speaker sessions. I’ve had some interesting emails about this, but overall I think it will be helpful for folks to disconnect for a few days, listen & discover new things in the sessions. Overall I want folks to have face-to-face conversations with people and make new friendships.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about how you crafted the speaker lineup? You have a very gender diverse speaker lineup! Was that intentional or just coincidentally how the lineup ended up?
The lineup was definitely intentional. Over the past year diversity in organizations and especially at web conferences is something that I’ve been hearing pop up almost weekly. Most of the time it seems to be something horrible stemming from harassment at conferences or a conference lineup full of male speakers with maybe the token woman speaker. Then again, I may be paying more attention because I have a teenage daughter that’s become really interested in what we do and I would prefer she not have to encounter harassment or have less than savory experiences at a conference. I didn’t want Blend Conference to be like that and decided that one thing I could do is have as close to a 50/50 split as possible. I ended up with a fairly long list of women speakers and that’s where the lineup came from. Some of them have been speaking on the conference circuit for a while and for others this will be their first time to speak. At any rate, I had heard that it’s hard to line up women speakers. Don’t believe it. There are plenty of talented women in our industry more than willing to speak at a conference. You just have to ask. There’s really no reason to not have a divers speaker lineup other than just not trying
Q: Do you have any advice to share with speakers (of any gender) that are looking to speak at conferences?
First, start local. In Charlotte I asked to speak at local meetups. The organizers are more than likely trying to fill speaker slots. I organize 3 meetups in Charlotte and it’s very rare I have somebody ask to speak but I sure wish people would ask more often. The meetups will give you a chance to test ideas and hone your presentation skills. Second, find some conferences that you’d like to speak at and email the organizer directly. The first two conferences that I ever spoke at were ConvergeSE and Front-End Conference. I noticed a couple of speaker spots that hadn’t been filled and emailed the organizers. Gene Crawford & Dan Denny were incredibly kind and gave me a chance and it was a fabulous experience. Third, just keep at it. You won’t get to speak at every conference but when you do get to speak, be gracious and be present. Don’t just appear for your conference talk and go *poof* once it’s over.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
I think diversity, not just with gender, is something that’s improving but just takes a bit time. One of the most important things that you can do is be involved and contribute to your local communities. I’m extremely lucky in Charlotte. I co-organize Charlotte UX with Maria Frey and Charlotte Front-End Developers with Tessa Harmon. They have both been instrumental helping to improve our local design and developer communities in Charlotte. If your local community isn’t quite where you want it to be yet, get to work, find some friends, and make it awesome.
How do I win?
In order to win the ticket, leave a comment below and in that comment let us know: what question would you like to ask a conference organizer. We’ll use the winning question in an upcoming piece on Ladies in Tech and award you the free ticket! Get your questions in by Tuesday 8/13 3pm EDT, after that the giveaway will conclude.
What if I don’t win?
Don’t worry! We’re all winners! Bermon has generously created a discount for 30% off any ticket to Blend Conference for Ladies in Tech readers. Just use the promo code “LADIESINTECH” at this registration page: https://tito.io/blendconf/blendconf-2013