Do Women Want Female-Only Tech Events?

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?
While Rebecca thoroughly enjoyed her experience at London’s Girl Geek Dinners Fourth Anniversary, and I’m a huge fan of Silicon Stilettos – when it comes to female meet-ups, what do we want?
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.
But a WEDDING CAKE? Oh lord. Break out the credit card because it’s a WEDDING CAKE. It’s not your average cake. It has…wedding stuff on it.
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. 

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

We all think the same as this post, and have organised a conference that does exactly what the writer ordered, a colloquium in the morning and some more serious stuff in the afternoon.

Just NextGenUs 2009 event.

The event will be held on 3rd September 2009 at the Guildhall, Alfred Gelder Street, Hull. HU1 2AA

this is an event where there are gonna be a lot of women who tech mixed with men who do and men who don't. A real mixture and a great agenda. All welcome, nice lunch, £10. Cate, you would love this conference.

Well said. I hate being talked down to, as it were, just because I'm a woman. But when there's an opportunity for women to come together as women and share opinions and experiences that are unique to them -- in an empowering, supportive, non-condescending way -- then I can get down with that.

The PR people I have been around lately are still under the assumption that quantity beats quality.

It doesn't.

Hi Kate,

i just read your line:

"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."

My answer:

I started to organize the Kitchen Dinners, because I was fed up with events with "a grabbed drink", a curry or pizza, and dating-like bizz. conversations. Frankly, I really enjoy good wine (i just bought 6 cases of it in Burgundy) and great food (I am a restaurant critic and own the Dutch Zagat=Iens) and when I combine that with talking and sitting down with interesting people, from a wide range in the industry and preferably more women than men, it inspires me much more than anything. It was a risk I took, with a new company, and all the Kitchen Dinners up till now, have been a tremendous success, with the attendees being even more enthousiastic than I could imagine. We talk business, raise creative ideas and resolve problems, get ideas, make connections, have fun, eat very well, write down our ideas and the best of all, establish real personal bizz.relationships in a city where this is not so easy.

You really have to try one, I am sure you will like it.

I like how you state your opinion on this issue so bluntly, very Dutch indeed one would say, so I thought I'ss be less Dutch and explain the other side of the coin a bit more lenghty.

kind regards, see you soon, maybe even the 18th Novemeber at the BIG kitchen Dinner?

Simone Brummelhuis

very nice post, i certainly love this website, keep on it

Hi! I discovered your threat on bing and check a few of your early posts. Continue to keep up the very good operate. I just additional up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking forward to reading more from you later on!…