MozCon’s dedication to the representation of women on stage officially kicked off in 2012. Before, it wasn’t that women didn’t speak or weren’t being asked to share their experiences and expertise. It was that, like many conferences out there, without an intentional discussion about gender during speaker selections — MozCon is invite-only — we missed the mark by miles. Even the intentional work hasn’t always gotten us to 50/50.
Good intention doesn’t take the place of purposeful work. As you can see, even while discussing gender, we haven’t always hit our mark:
Raw data breakdown:
MozCon 2016–26 speakers, 62% w / 38% m
MozCon 2015–26 speakers, 46% w / 54% m
MozCon 2014–28 speakers, 39% w / 61% m
MozCon 2013–35 speakers, 51% w / 49% m
MozCon 2012–27 speakers, 26% w / 74% m
MozCon 2011–26 speakers, 19% w / 81% m
MozCon 2010–16 speakers, 19% w / 81% m
As a practice, marketing tends to skew more female vs. male, but majority men in high ranking positions and speaking at conferences. Not to mention, Moz’s niche is SEO (search engine optimization) and other online marketing, which the technical computer skills required pushes it into the cultural stereotype of men being better with technology. There’s nothing about the actual work of online marketing that should be gender biased, yet the events that we and others in the industry hold have been in the unfortunate position of asserting and confirming that unfortunate stereotype.
“Diversity is deeply important to all of us at Moz, It’s unacceptable to me, personally and professionally, that men are so vastly over-represented on stage at technology, marketing, and startup events. It hurts both men and women to miss the unique perspectives, insights, and experiences greater diversity affords. I’m thrilled to work with the 50/50 Pledge and thankful to have the opportunity to make Moz a pledge partner.” — Rand Fishkin, founder and Wizard of Moz
Our stage represents our community of practice. That community is full of marketers of all stripes. We believe that gender representation — while a big step — is only the first step in the right direction toward a full representative stage.
One of the most exciting outcomes of programming that leads to more women on stage has been a rise in women attendees. In 2012, only 10% of MozCon attendees were women. In fact, our venue that year forgot to unlock the women’s restroom and stock the tampon dispensary! Luckily, a Moz team member caught the locked door quickly, while another made a run to the drug store.
Now that it’s 2016, things have changed so much. Our last show in 2015 saw 31% women attendees, and people noticed. (When an underrepresented group reaches 30%, those groups are “noticed” as having power and sometimes mistaken for being more than 50%.*) Finding women speakers for our 2016 event wasn’t the struggle it had been in past years. No one blinked when we stopped to count the gender of speakers — it has become a norm, a goal that we now feel confident we can reach every year. Now we’re seeking intentional representation of other sorts of diversity on stage reflecting our actual culture and all potential backgrounds of our community, For example, we now have gender neutral restrooms and will have CART, live closed captioning, at our conference. While it’s a big and important step, the work that we are focused on now doesn’t stop with equal representation based solely on gender. We’re excited to take this first step via our partnership with the 50/50 Pledge, and we will continue to work hard to create an inclusive space and experience across our entire community, reflective of who they are and who they could be.
*“Research has suggested that only when a minority increases to about 30–35 percent does it become strong enough to influence the fundamental group culture and form the alliances that can give it a significant impact on the whole.” (Women in politics and decision-making in the late twentieth century by the United Nations, 1992)