I like when people talk about things that make other people think. The recent conversations about the lack of women speakers at search conferences is definitely making people think, and hopefully looking for ways to solve the problem.
This is probably a dumb idea to solve the problem
I think the responsibility to make conferences more accessible to female speakers is mostly on conference organizers. Organizing an international SEO or marketing conference is not something I have experience with or can relate to, so this could be a really dumb idea, but I feel like one solution could be anonymous pitching.
The conference organizers would have to let potential speakers pitch their idea anonymously, making the strength of their idea the focal point of deciding who they let speak.
How anonymous pitching could work
I realize that speaker’s names and reputations are what bring people to digital marketing conferences. And the after parties probably bring the majority of people, so I can understand that the idea of letting speakers pitch anonymously is a risk to reaching attendance and revenue goals.
But here’s how I think this could work:
- The conference organizer creates a landing page for interested speakers to set up an anonymous profile (don’t cookie anybody please)
- After the anonymous profile is set up, the interested speaker is taken to a page to pitch their idea
- All communication is done through the speaker profile landing page, and all done anonymously
- When the speaker’s pitch is submitted, they are told when to log back in to see if their pitch was accepted
- After the pitch is submitted, the organizer gets an alert and goes through the review process
- By the decision deadline, the organizer sends a message to the prospective speaker indicating if they were accepted or not
- If they are accepted, the normal speaker process goes on from there
Why this idea might not work
You may be thinking of a few reasons why this idea won’t work. Before writing this I bounced the idea off of a colleague and they told me it was a little out there. But I think one of the main reasons it might not work is because it would be difficult not to try to determine the gender of the person by what they wrote and how they wrote it.
People are into solving mysteries, so there’s definitely a mystery aspect to the idea of anonymous conference pitching. Maybe it would be too distracting.
Who will pilot the idea of anonymous conference pitching?
I don’t plan on organizing any conferences in the near future, but if you’re a conference organizer and you want to pilot the idea, I’d love to help any way I can. And if you have another idea to solve the problem, let’s hear it.