UPDATE: TechWeek has canceled their Black Tie Rave and has announced steps it will take to make amends. (note: I’m am in agreement with some but not all of the steps they are taking. I look forward to having a more active role in helping elevate both men and women in the tech scene.)
I’m happy to be part of a women’s group of women in Tech – Ms. Tech where women support each other and discuss issues that impact us as business women. I’m equally grateful that someone in the group posted about the recent issue with TechWeek posting a very clubby, inappropriate image of women promoting one of their parties. I applaud Crain’s for dropping out as a media partner and tech leaders Paul Lee, Brian Fitzpatrick, Harper Reed and others who asked to be taken off the TechWeek 100 list as result of the inappropriate photo.
And Now I Feel Like I Can Have More of a Voice
I’m embarrassed to say that I kept quiet when I saw the ad for the recent TechWeek Rave. I did what I often do in situations like this – I just won’t go and I didn’t promote the event to the Digital Megaphone audience like I often do for events I think might be beneficial.
I will say that I was not in any way offended. I just thought, WOW, this event is NOT for me. I’m not going to fit in / feel comfortable. The word RAVE also turned me off. I think I was at a rave. Once. I was in my 20’s. It involved getting a text at 1 am with the address of a house with 100’s of people and no furniture.
So now, with others standing-up, I’m more comfortable voicing my opinion. TechWeek held a meeting last night about the issue. I wasn’t able to attend. My lack of attendance was in no way tied to my interest in the topic. I had another commitment and was not able to change my plans at the last minute.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
TechWeek has done an incredible job of quickly growing their presence in several cities. This year’s Chicago line-up includes an impressive list of speakers, sponsors and board members who are helping to elevate Chicago as a tech hub. As someone who plans events, I’m learning a lot from them about scaling an event business.
I’m proud of what I’ve built. Our summits have a loyal following and our events have always been profitable. This year, paid attendance grew 30% and revenue grew by 50%. I also have an impressive list of sponsors and speakers, but there’s always room for improvement. I have learned quite a bit by observing how TechWeek operates and also feel that I have tips that can help them as they grow:
Here’s what I’d Like to See More of
- A REAL apology. Saying you are sorry if people were offended is WAY different than apologizing that what you did was wrong. Ann Dwyer hit the nail on head when we messaged back and forth about the apology on Twitter:
- Women speakers for all of the summits
- A session on how men and women can work better together – notice this is reciprocal. We ALL need to do our part. It’s not just about men being able to work with women. It’s also about women understanding men and being able to work with them. OF COURSE within appropriate guidelines. There may already be a session like this, I just didn’t notice one on the agenda
- More women on the TechWeek top 100
- Content specifically centered around issues important to women in Tech – again, there might be sessions like. I’d love for them to be highlighted. I did look at the schedule and nothing like this popped out at me
- Integrity within the TechWeek management team. I personally had a negative experience with their executive team. I helped to promote the conference when they were just starting out. This was supposed to be in exchange for them promoting my summit. They have yet to make good on their end of the agreement despite me reaching out to them about the issue several times. There are several others who have mentioned similar situations where TechWeek has not followed through on commitments. It’s important to build these bridges so that when situations such as the rave image occur you have built an army of advocates that will help you weather through the situation
Here’s what I’d Like to See Less of
- Tech Week objectifying women in an effort to promote parties
- Expo sponsors hiring models who are wearing tight shirts, shorts to promote their products
- Male / “old boys club” heavy agenda and leadership
What I’m going to do About it
I once had a very wise boss who only let us complain to her if we had at least one solution in mind. So here’s what I’m going to do.
Powerful Women Project
I truly believe in focusing on the positive and studying what successful women are doing right as opposed to complaining about what we don’t have. I started reaching out to successful business leaders to find out about their path to success. Here’s the first video in the series. I plan on filming several more videos and sharing them so others can benefit from their words of wisdom.
Highlighting Female TechWeek Speakers / TechWeek100
I’ll be attending TechWeek with a Press Pass and will focus on interviewing / covering female based sessions. So stay tuned for TechWeek coverage.
What You can do to Help
I would love any introductions you can make to successful female leaders in the tech or corporate space! The more women who share their success, the more we all learn and grow!