STUDY: Ensono Research Examines the Need to Eliminate Biased Features at Tech Conferences to Achieve Greater Parity for Women
August 18, 2020
Ensono today released the findings of its second annual research report, “Speak Up: Redesigning Tech Conferences With Women in Mind.” Ensono surveyed 500 women across the U.S. and U.K. who attended a tech conference in 2019 to uncover their experiences surrounding discrimination based on gender, race and sexual orientation at industry events. The report also includes an audit of the same 18 major technology conferences as last year’s report to identify change in the representation of female keynote speakers at tech conferences.
“This year’s report comes at a tipping point for the tech industry, and the spirit of change has never been stronger,” said Meredith Graham, senior vice president of culture and people experience at Ensono. “While we never could have predicted how 2020 would unfold, now is the time to implement change and create cultures that champion diversity and inclusion, not only in tech but across industries.”
The report reveals how biased conference amenities have been a barrier to gender parity in the tech industry. For women of color, this disparity is even greater, and companies are responsible for diversity and inclusion efforts that challenge routine procedure. As digital events have become the new normal due to the impact of COVID-19, companies also need to consider how inclusive virtual conferences are designed to be.
Some of the top findings from the survey and audit include:
71% of women who have given a keynote say conferences are not designed with women in mind.
On average, women of color made up only 8% of keynote speakers at tech conferences over the last three years.
61% of women say their company is more likely to send a man to a tech conference than a woman.
Of the 29% of respondents who experienced sexual harassment at a conference, 57% didn’t report the incident because they simply didn’t know how due to a lack of code of conduct procedures.
“One of the organizers thought I was there to refill coffee — I was actually giving a keynote,” said an Ensono survey respondent.
The report also outlines data surrounding the lack of accommodations at tech events for women, like rooms for nursing mothers, as well as biased design features, like podiums or projectors sized for much taller men. It also provides actionable takeaways for companies to better equip their female associates to attend both in-person and virtual events, such as investing in internal resources that vet conferences and transmit attendee feedback.
“Although the overhaul of in-person conferences has increased the opportunity for women to gain representation at tech conferences and have better experiences, it doesn’t stop there,” said Lin Classon, vice president of product management at Ensono. “The industry still has a long way to go, but it’s research like this that provides companies with data and tools to initiate change.”