Why tomorrow's tech high-flyers must think about diversity

I don’t want to take anything away from the teenagers organising what they say is the UK’s first technology conference aimed at teens. Tomorrow’s Web will no doubt be a great event and organising something like this takes impressive drive and skill – and they’re doing it at an age when I was expertly juggling A-levels, sofa time and trying to get into pubs.
But I have to admit my heart sank a bit when I looked at the site. Every single speaker announced so far is male, although the organisers say there will be some female speakers announced soon. After decades of campaigning, awareness-raising and arguing, it would be good to have at least a few up-and-coming girls featured at an event like this.
If you’re holding a conference, whoever you are, make sure the speakers you use and promote reflect the make-up of the people you are trying to reach. Especially if you’re holding a conference purporting to represent the future of the technology industry – it has to include women, and preferably would have a section or discussion aimed purely at girls (at least while they’re still a minority).
This conference is pitching itself as (and probably is) an exhibition of some of the technology high-flyers and influential thinkers of the future. Unless the organisers really think about the diversity agenda, and actively push it forward, it looks like they think we’re heading for another generation of the same white, male dominated technology industry that we’ve already got. That we’re, frankly, bored of.
The people organising this are obviously very clever and driven, but I think they have a responsibility to think about the message they’re sending out and the role they’ll play in shaping the industry.

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It looks an interesting conference - everyone is trying to reach "yoof" at the moment, hence all the insights from Morgam Stanley and others. But as you say, VERY disappointing they have no female speakers. I expect is the usual issue that no women have volunteered, or, if they have approached, they have declined. I imagine the organisers are tearing their hair out.

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Yes it's a real shame there are none - they are looking at the moment, so if you know any techie girls age 13-21 please let me know and I'll pass the info on. My email is rebecca.thomson@rbi.co.uk. Alternatively Grant Bell, one of the organisers, is on Twitter, @grantbell.

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