Strictly all-female tech events seems to be a touchy subject for everyone involved in tech.
Just like gadgets aimed at women, all the WIT seem to get all funny when we’re invited to a women-only tech event.
How dare they presume to know what all of us want? An event? For women? As opposed to a regular event? What – do we get pink cocktails and low-fat cannapés to nibble on as we giggle about boyfriends and periods?
Or do we even want them at all?
Personally, the majority of events that I go to are for both genders. So many “women in business” and “women in tech” events lose sight of what they’re meant to be doing, and end up putting people off.
Why would I spend £500 for a one day conference…just because it’s “for women”?
Why do I have to spend £50 for a dinner with influential women in my industry? Why can’t we just grab a drink and talk that way? If you want it to be exclusive, fine. Only make so many tickets available – but why so much money? Can’t we go to a Whetherspoon’s on Curry Thursday and have the same conversation?
Oh, no. We need to have our power suits on and be drinking expensive white wine in order for us to feel like proper business women.
I understand that there is a need for different styles and different types of events for women, but what I find most of the “let’s inspire some women” events similar to wedding cakes.
If you’re buying a cake, it costs a standard price.
So, keeping in mind corporate business events take themselves much to seriously anyway, add that it’s for WOMEN in business on top of it, and it’s charge-happy central.
What are some female-only events doing right, that others are getting wrong? Do PR agencies and events coordinators avoid anything typically female? Do they avoid cosmos? Do they make it as gender neutral as possible? Can you have a gender neutral event when it’s clearly only XX chromosones in the room?
One of the best all-female events I recently went to broke all of my personal rules about women in tech meet-ups.
When it comes to events for women, I’m usually against there being frilly things there because someone’s assumed that’s what women want. I’m against having bright pink gadgets and things “women like” on the table that they’re hoping will “engage us” and cause us to “evangelize” and “connect” with their product.
However, this event I went to was at a well-to-do hotel, with the fanciest afternoon tea in existence (there were small cakes shaped like hand-bags), champagne, tea, and most of us were in dresses and skirts because of the nature of the venue.
So why didn’t I start wretching and run out?
The difference was, was that there were five of us.
The gadget we were meant to be discussing was on the table – we all had our own samples to play with prior to the event – and we just got to know each other.
Women from different ages and backgrounds, representing different publications and websites, and we had actual conversations.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that it the success of your event has everything to do with who you’ve invited, how the people putting on the event treat their guests, and how they integrate their corporate agenda into the evening.
I learned more about the gadget and the company behind it, as well as making some cool connections with other women in my industry. The evening was about women meeting other techy women, and a gadget. The tea, champagne and cakes were just sweet little additions.
The true agenda and point to the evening were clear. It wasn’t distracted by pink nonsense lost in feminine BS. We were women, drinking tea and eating cake while we discussed technology.
And it was pretty damn fabulous.
At events where the only point is to meet people and get drunk – you don’t need a lot of forethought. The right venue, and maybe a free drink or two, and you’re good.
But at these events for women where people are meant to be “inspiring us” or we’re meant to learn more about a brand – to the extent that the organizers are hoping we’ll give coverage or use these products in our every day lives – your event needs meat.
It needs forethought.
Women all have different opinions and expectations when it comes to events, it’s your job to try to find the balance.