There aren’t enough women speaking in our industry.
There I said it. It’s what I believe even though the Twitter masses have angrily and repeatedly told me that I’m wrong, that there are “enough” women represented, and that what conferences are really missing are more SEOs with beards (thanks for that, BTW). However, I think those people are wrong. I also think if you’re one of the many SEO conference organizers out there it is actually your responsibility to seek out and encourage these women to come speak at your event. Not women for women’s sake, but women who are equally-talented, if not MORE talented, than the men already on the stage.
Yes, sometimes that means you have to do some homework and find them. Because when you don’t, you do us all a disservice.
Don’t get me wrong – there are some fantastic women who are already household names at the many conferences that take place a year. I started out in SEO listening to women like Jill Whalen, Christine Churchill, Anne Kennedy, Dana Todd and others take the stage. As the years have gone by, fiercely intelligent women like Sonia Simone, Joanna Lord, Cindy Krum, Pamela Lund, Jen Lopez, and others have made names for themselves on the concert circuit by continuing to deliver and impress each time they’re on stage.
But I still don’t think it’s enough.
Every time I see a conference line up that’s overly full of dudes, it grates on my nerves. Because that’s not what our industry looks like. There are not nine dudes for every woman in this industry. But that’s what you’re left to believe if you judge the image of our industry based on what our conferences look.
And that’s a load of crap.
I’m going to be attending several conferences over the next couple of months so I thought I’d create a list of some of the women I WISH I was going to see speaking. Some because they haven’t pitched (because they’re kind of busy working), others maybe just aren’t on the right radars, and some may have been passed over. However, if Outspoken Media was in charge, these are some of the woman faces we’d like to see speaking more.
1. Michelle Robbins
Michelle’s not a new face. You probably already know her. She’s the Director of Technology for Third Door Media where it’s her job to keep the boys in line and to keep sites like Marketing Land, Search Engine Land, Search Marketing Expo, Search Marketing Now & IMTCourses.com running smoothly. I was pretty stoked to see that Michelle will be speaking at Blueglass LA in April (which I can’t get to) and I hope to see her at more events. A lot more events. Because her brain, her insight, and her experience has made her my full-on industry girl crush. There are people who are smarter and then there are people who are scary smart. Michelle is the latter.
2. Jane Copland
My bet is you know Jane, too, especially if you’ve been hanging around SEO for awhile. Jane spends most of her time under the radar these days where she prefers to work and get shit done than spend too much time on social media talking about herself. But that’s exactly what some of us wish she would do – talk. More. While Jane isn’t a stranger to the conference circuit, we’d love to see her speaking at more events and sharing her depth of knowledge. After her presentation at Pubcon Las Vegas, she’s also the favorite “girl crush” of one of the OSM team members based on that talk.
3. Julie Joyce
I’m kind of afraid of Julie. I’m not sure why and she’s done nothing to make me fearful, but I sort of hide whenever she’s in sight and pray she doesn’t see me. Because then I’d have to say hello. And I’d probably start rambling about how I think she’s really awesome and smart and how I really appreciate that about her. Julie is co-owner of Link Fish Media and also writes for Search Engine Land’s Link Week Column. When it comes to links, Julie knows how to get them – the good, the bad and even the ugly. While she’s also not a total stranger to the conference circuit, we’d love for her voice to get louder. Much louder.
4. Annie Cushing
As far as I’m concerned, Annie Cushing is a goddess and it’s a crime that she’s not speaking everywhere, always. This woman is an analytics powerhouse. Even better than that, she can explain complicated analytics goodness into terms and ideas that people even as dumb as me can understand. Even better than THAT is that she can do it while making uterus jokes and getting everyone to crack a smile. I haven’t seen her speaking at too many conferences, but that needs to change. And if you’re smart, you’ll get her to your event first. She works at Seer Interactive now. Go find her.
5. Dawn Wentzell
We loved Dawn when she worked for Outspoken Media as a rockin’ Senior Account Manager and we love her now that she’s at SpeakFeel doing awesome things with mobile and mobile apps. The girl knows her stuff and she’s smarter about mobile than way too many of the other speakers I’ve seen out there. I’ve watched videos of Dawn’s talks and I can tell you that I leave with more actionable information and insight about mobile than I do when I listen to way too many other speakers. If you’re running a session on mobile and how to integrate it properly, get Dawn.
6. Selena Narayanasamy
I won’t lie – I don’t know Selena that well. I’ve never seen her speak (but you can catch her at Blueglass LA) and I don’t have experience with her work. But what I do have experience with is the content that she puts out regularly as the Director of Strategy Development for Blueglass. And based on that, if I found out she was speaking on a panel, my butt would be there. She’s smart and she’s coming to get you.
7. Amanda Orson
Amanda Orson is Citadel grad with a number of her own affiliate properties and takes on local lead generation and affiliate publishing consulting gigs. When it comes to affiliate stuff, she’s one of the ladies we respect most here at Outspoken Media. When she’s NOT schooling people on affiliate marketing, she’s equally kickass spending her summers on a fishing boat in Alaska, fighting the proposed Pebble Mine or writing on her blog.
8. Sarah Carling
Sarah Carling is the Co-Founder and Director of Operations at Obsidian Edge. I had the privilege of hearing her speak while at PubCon Vegas and I’m hoping she decides to get more active in this little SEO speaking bubble because, well, she was pretty awesome. She’s another one that’s not only smart and can handle herself, but does it in a way that people relate to.
9. Etela Ivkovic
Etela is the Director General over at Dragon Search Marketing and could give you a run for your money talking about the finer points of SEO, social media, and how to provide value for clients as an SEO agency. But she can also school you talking about business and how to go about creating a culture of awesome. I’ve never heard Etela speak, but I’ve been really lucky to grab a moment of her time in corners of rooms and I am always left smarter for the conversation.
10. Erica McGilivray
Erica is the Community Attache for SEOmoz, as well as the President & Marketing Directory for GeekGirlCon. What all of that means is that Erica is just as nerdy as the rest of us. Personally, I’d love to hear her talk putting together events, setting up in-house e-commerce systems, and, really, what it’s like to manage that crazy Mozzer community. We keep hearing that SEOmoz is made up of kickass females – I’d like to start to see more of them!
11. Ruth Burr
I got “stuck” sitting next to Ruth during a dinner at SMX Advanced last year and it’s been straight-on girl crush ever since. She’s currently listed as the Senior Manager, Search Marketing at GameHouse and specializes in on-page optimization, content creation, and PPC. She lists herself as a “data-driven marketer” and that just makes my palms sweaty. We need more people talking about data and less people talking about social media disasters and made up statistics. Lets cancel a few of those sessions, and get people like Ruth talking about metrics and measuring.
12. Kristy Bolsinger
You probably already know the name Kristy Bolsinger. Kristy works as a Social Business Consultant for Ant’s Eye View and also writes some pretty top notch content over at SocialFresh, which is what has me so obsessed with hearing from her. I’m a fan of Kristy’s because she talks about social in a smart way. She talks about it in a way that complements SEO, isn’t overly fluffy, and doesn’t write it off as another “quick fix”. She’s experienced, she’s personable, and, personally, I don’t think she gets enough attention for just how smart she is.
That’s twelve ladies. Does that mean that’s it?
No. Not by a long shot. But the twelve women listed above are all folks I’d pay to see speak – which is what conferences should be thinking about — and people who I’ve never seen speak at all or who I haven’t seen enough. Some of them are probably top of mind, but others maybe aren’t. But if your goal is to put on a premier conference, I’d venture to say you don’t get to select from just who pitches or who you drink with at conferences. You have to uncover some rocks. You have to do your home work. Because the industry will be better for it when we paint a more accurate picture of who’s here and whose voices deserve to be heard.
There are PLENTY more woman out there who are doing awesome things in the SEO and technical side of the industry. Who are some names YOU’RE dying to see up on that stage? Leave them in the comments. I’d really like to hear them.