The Woman’s Guide to Having it All

February 8, 2013
By Rhea Drysdale in Announcements

A better title would be, “Outspoken Media’s Winter/Spring 2013 Speaking Schedule,” but I decided to do more with this after reading aimClear’s recent study on gender diversity among SEO industry conferences.

The question of female speakers and gender diversity within the SEO industry has always been a hot topic. Even among women it’s been widely debated because many don’t see an issue, simply don’t want to speak for a variety of reasons, or feel the bias against us so strongly that it becomes demoralizing to speak or even unsafe.

To understand whether search marketing conferences were adequately representing gender diversity, aimClear conducted their study and found that on average, only 25.3% of conference speakers/coordinators were women. The last time I checked we have a majority share of the world’s population, so there’s still a lot of work to do if we want to give women an equal voice. This extends to women wanting to speak, which again, many don’t.

As a female in the industry, and arguably a leader in the space, I want it known that I’m comfortably positioned on the side of more diversity is needed (not just gender). However, I’m also of the opinion that we need less empty rants in the blogosphere–we need to actually do something about it! It’s disheartening (and sometimes I contribute) when women are approached to speak or share their professional thoughts and they simply don’t respond. This speaks to one of my favorite quotes that I picked up after watching Miss Representation (it’s excellent—go watch it!):

“You can’t be what you can’t see.” – Marian Wright Edelman

If we don’t like what we’re seeing, we have to actively work to fix it. This isn’t as easy as it sounds though.

My completely anecdotal opinion is that for a woman to have a family and a career, we take on so much that we have less time than our male counterparts, and how we allocate that time becomes a series of sacrifices and prioritization. This isn’t unique from many men with families or other priorities, but let’s get real here–if a woman wants to start a family and run a business (I’m currently five months pregnant, so this is top of mind), there is a huge commitment of time, energy, and physical constraints. This naturally sets women back for a few months, so how we spend our time becomes a precious balancing act. And, the few months we’re “set back” requires a lot of preparation, especially in an SEO agency like Outspoken Media or a startup where everyone is already maxed out. Fortunately, most women have nine months to get ready and have already been setting things in motion long before the actual pregnancy. This has been the silver lining of my pregnancy–forced business planning, process development, team training and empowerment, etc. We still have work to do, but we’re getting there and it’s going to position us for long-term growth, not just a short-term bandaid.

I don’t want to agree with posts like The Myth of Having it All and Why Women Still Can’t Have it All. I want to be the exception, but it’s hard—physically, emotionally, and mentally. While Outspoken Media is thriving more than ever, I’m dropping the ball on incredible personal (and brand) opportunities like starting a column on Search Engine Watch, contributing a post to Smashing Magazine, or getting back to Entrepreneur.com about those interview questions.

We all have the same amount of time in the day and my family, my team, my clients, and then my health comes first (yes, my health has had to be better with the pregnancy, don’t worry about that, baby is fine). Those incredible opportunities may not be there in another six months, but I know that I’m positioning the Outspoken Media brand for growth and that WILL be here in six months. I know where our leads come from and it’s about consistently doing great work for our clients, word of mouth referrals, industry connections (like you!), and speaking opportunities. Those media opportunities drive links and some leads, but they never convert as well as the referrals. Also, we’ve seen an immense amount of new business generation simply by retaining our clients and expanding services. They’re now generating new business for us by selling us to other divisions or properties owned by their parent company. That’s success!

While I’m focused on what’s going to drive long-term success, I’m also speaking aggressively this Winter/Spring along with Sean, because we know that this will drive more leads and authority for the brand. Yes, I’m pregnant (and I’ve spoken to MANY women lately who are terrified to tell a business contact this or even admit to having children–seriously!), but I’m doing what’s right for my business and in the process, I’d like to think that I’m helping increase gender diversity at these conferences.

Want to hear more from Sean and me? I promise I won’t rant about women’s rights (though I will talk endlessly about babies if you ask), but I will be happy to discuss the future of SEO, social media analytics, reputation management, and organic link development. Sexy, huh? I think so, which makes it feel less like a job despite the hours of uncomfortable, pregnant travel to get there. I can’t wait to speak, because it’s building a future for my business, my team, and my family. I hope this helps empower more women to put themselves out there regardless of the industry’s lack of gender diversity and knowledge that women score consistently less favorably than men. We are the change that needs to happen. I’ll see you at:

Upcoming National Events

February 14, 2013 – Patch.com’s Main Street U Summit

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Catch Sean Stahlman speaking on The Misconceptions of SEO and Small Business SEO.

February 22, 2013 – SearchFest 2013

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I’ll be speaking on Social Media Analytics: Discovery and Attribution with Mike Pantoliano.

March 11-13, 2013 – SMX West 2013

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I’ll be coordinating and speaking on the Essential SEO Analytics: The Performance Metrics That Truly Count session with Jon Henshaw, Will Scott, and Rob Bucci, and I can’t say this enough times—do not miss this session! It’s going to be an important conversation on the future of SEO performance metrics, and packed with both actionable advice and advanced theory. Don’t believe me? The speakers keep saying how excited they are to not just be on the panel, but how much they wish they could just sit in the back of the room and listen. Um, yeah, it’s going to be epic.

I’ll also be speaking on the How To Groove To The Google Dance (Yes, It’s Back) session with Danny Sullivan, Mitul Gandhi, and Marcus Tober. We’ll be prepping for this panel soon and I expect it to be equally epic with so many Google updates happening and new tools like MozCast launching just to make sense of it all.

March 20-21, 2013 – Internet Marketing Conference

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I’ll be speaking on the SEO Panel–SEOs Role in Online Marketing with Jim Hedger, Barbara Coll, and Benj Arriola.

March 26, 2013 – SEOmoz webinar

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I’ll be presenting a webinar over at SEOmoz on a topic that is still in development, but we’re honing in on something really unique, compelling, and personal. Stay tuned! In the meantime, check out my previous webinar on Online Reputation Management: Branding for SERP Domination.

Upcoming Local Events

April 9, 2013 – Women@Work Connect

I’ll be speaking with two other women from the Capital District on How to Manage Your Personal Brand Through Social Media for their breakfast series.

Date TBD – Social Media Breakfast Tech Valley

I won’t be speaking at the next breakfast, but as an organizer along with Pearl and several other local professionals, I wanted to get this on the radar for March. The topic will be on The Mechanics of Social Media and we’re excited to get technical with local area experts! Stay tuned.

Does that feel like a lot? It does to me, but I’m just a pregnant woman who can’t have it all! For those worried, I’ll be done traveling by the 7-month cut off, so all is good and yes, traveling while pregnant requires a different set of planning (e.g. locating nearby hospitals for worst-case scenarios, packing snacks, finding professional clothes that even fit, planning bathroom breaks, etc.). Regardless, I’ll see you at the conferences and if our paths don’t cross in-person, contact us. I’d love to chat about new business, partnerships, or just how you manage to balance everything.

Are you a woman who has it “all?” I’d love to hear your story, especially if you decided to compromise. Are you a man who has had to sacrifice for your family? Share! Have something that you just need to get off your chest? Go for it. It’s a hot topic, because it’s REAL.

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