WebSummit 2016: How was it for women?

Diana Biggs
Nov 16, 2016 · 3 min read

**** Update: Since this initial posting, we’ve written an update and re-vamped the survey: new link here. Thanks everyone for your feedback, shares & support! ****

Last week, we went to Lisbon for WebSummit 2016, together with 50,000 other tech professionals from around the world.

We were lucky to be amongst those who were given free ‘Women in Tech’ passes for the conference and booked our tickets, flight and accommodation straight away.

In 2015, under an initiative entitled “Commitment to Change”, Sinead Murphy, then Head of Production of WebSummit, announced they would be providing the 10,000 complimentary tickets for women in the tech industry for their four conferences in 2016.

It certainly helped clinch our decision to go and we’re grateful for initiatives like this.

Not everyone was as excited as we were:

Some went so far as to be openly condescending and dismissive:

Regardless, we went, as did thousands of you, to take advantage of the networking opportunities, roundtables, and to hear the latest from the industry in which we have built and developed our careers.

Our experiences were somewhat mixed. It was great to see so many female attendees. But with only around 100 of the 663 speakers over the week being female, we were quite disappointed by the on-stage representation — as were you:

To top it all off, Forbes couldn’t resist telling us what we should be wearing.

There were more stories we heard and saw on the ground but these aren’t always the ones people share openly, for whatever reason.

For this reason, we’ve decided to investigate further to better understand the female experience of a tech conference. We want to know: how did you find it?

We’ve created an anonymous survey for you to share your WebSummit experience: both your stories from this year’s event and your views and advice for what you’d like to see in the future.

Please provide specific examples and suggestions where possible — this will help to formulate actionable advice that we can pass along.

We will summarize your responses and share them publicly with WebSummit, and ideally organizers of other tech conferences, to help raise awareness about what works, what doesn’t and how we can all do better to promote gender equality and inclusion in tech.

PLEASE SHARE! The more responses we can get, the more useful we can make this.


We need more dialogue and awareness on diversity. And the more uncomfortable the conversations, potentially the better.

We hope this survey can help with that.

Diana & Rebecca

Athena Talks

A hub of conversation to help young women mature, budding professionals become leaders and leaders become advocates for equality.

Diana Biggs

Written by

Working on the future of finance, in a way which promotes privacy, wellness and inclusion. All views are my own. Nomadic tendencies.

Athena Talks

A hub of conversation to help young women mature, budding professionals become leaders and leaders become advocates for equality.

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