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As a generalist software geek in Australia/NZ, there is not a lot of choice when it comes to conferences. One advantage of the limited menu we have is that it’s relatively easy to track trends of the available conferences over time and one such trend I’m particularly interested in is how many female speakers get an opportunity to present at these conferences.

Below is the information I’ve gathered so far in all it’s empirical glory.

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I’ve focused on conferences where I could get at least three years of data (which is sometimes not as easy as I expected, and I thank conference organisers who archive appropriately) to see how their gender diversity numbers were trending.  Some initial conclusions are:

  1. Webstock in Wellington is a clear winner in terms of this metric.  They were the only conference in this list which had > 50% female speakers at any time (2016 and 2017).  [Personal note: I’ve not attended this conference but colleagues who have speak very highly of it as well]
  2. All conferences included seem to be trending in the right direction apart from YOW West and YOW Lambda Jam, which either have no discernible trend due to small sample size (YOW Lambda Jam) or where diversity is not improving (YOW West).
  3. Based on this data set, the bar is very low in terms of improving.  With the exception of Webstock, diversity ratios of 1:3 or 1:4 is the best I’ve found 😦

Note: Gender presence is only one form of diversity to consider and the approach I’ve used is unscientific and assuming a gender binary world, but I hope you find this information useful even with the shortcomings in my method.  I plan to release this data in a more machine consumable format (e.g., JSON) in the near future.

Full Disclosure: My employer, ThoughtWorks, sponsors both Agile Australia and the YOW conferences and I’ve spoken at several of these events over the years.

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