Reading the paper last week, in a rare moment of peace, I spotted an article that got me thinking.
The piece was about the annual South by Southwest Interactive conference (SXSW) on between 7th and 16 March in Austin, Texas. The interactive conference has been running as part of the SXSW — alongside the SXSW Music and SXSW Film festivals — since 2007. When the festival first started, female attendees were a rarity. The event was cram-packed with male engineers, programmers and enthusiasts.
This year, however, has been different. The event has seen an explosion in the number of speaker sessions about women in technology. It is five times higher than this time last year. This reflects a shift in the make-up of the attendees and their interests. The conference panels are chosen through a crowd-sourced process where people can enter proposals that participants then vote on.
An increase in the number of female attendees, female-focussed event programmes and execs of tech companies all hints to an increase in the number of women involved in the technology world. But if you want a real indication of what is going on at grass-roots level, a comment from entrepreneur Tina Cannon, vice president of law firm Tuggey Calvoz LLP made to Bloomberg paints the clearest picture. She never had to queue for the [loo].
“It’s definitely changed. I’m hoping at one point down the line you can stop talking about the first woman this, the first woman that. It’s just ‘Sally the engineer’.”
So next time you see a queue for the ladies’ loo, know that women are there and are there in force.