50% women + 50% men = 100% competence

01 December 2015

Canadas cabinet done it, the Swedish one did it 20 years ago so I think the world of Web Performance conferences are ready to do it as well. Ready for what? Ready for a 100% competence and gender balance among speakers.


In the world of web performance there are two conferences that are the top ones in the world: O'Reillys Velocity Conference and the smaller WebPerfDays. Let look at the gender speaker ratio for the last year (the numbers can differ one/two percent, it was hard to keep track of all the men):

100% competence

Two months ago I was asked by the Swedish Internet foundation if I could help them find speakers for the web performance track of the conference Internetdagarna the 23-24 November this year. One of the many things I like about the Swedish Internet foundation and Internetdagarna is that they settle for nothing less than 100% competence. If you look at the keynote speakers for the event, there are three female and three male speakers.

One of the goals for the conference was reaching a gender balanced speaker line up so they add extra support for helping organizers like me to get there. And guess what? With the foundations support we got the first web performance conference with 50% women and 50% men among speakers almost got to be the first web performance conference with 50% women and 50% men among speakers. A late cancelation made it 40/60 else we would have made it :(

Even though we didn't made it this year, I think it will happen in 2016. This post is a challenge for Velocity and WebPerfDays to also make this right in 2016 :)

The challenge

Its simple: I challenge the Velocity Conference and the WebPerfDays next year to reach 50/50 gender balanced speakers line up. I think you need 100% competence. Do you need help to address the challenge? A good start is reading Ashe Rydens blog post about increasing diversity at your conference.

How can we as conference attendants help out? Every time we talk to the people arranging conferences, we need to make sure to talk about the importance of gender balance and 100% competence until they reach 50/50!

Want to know if the succeed? Make sure to check back here in a year when I publish the result :)

Written by: Peter Hedenskog