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A Quick Note About Recent Line-ups

Posted on19/10/2019

People who know me well will know that I take the speaker line-ups at Cardiff SEO Meet very seriously. Because I take gender balance very seriously.

In the past I’ve created a list of South Wales-based women working in tech/digital who do speaking gigs, to help fellow local meetup organisers find more women speakers for their events. A few years ago, I got into a debate with a local conference organiser that had a very male-dominated speaker line-up (it turned out that their final line-up was much more balanced, but the initial line-up they announced was about 90/10 men/women IIRC). I take inspiration from the likes of Learn Inbound and brightonSEO, who work hard to do the same.

For the majority of our events, I’m proud to say that almost every line-up has had at least one woman speaker on it. However two recent events have had just male speakers on the bill, and I wanted to explain why.

Meet #13 had Dom Hodgson and Stacey MacNaught on the line-up, but with just a few days to go, Stacey had to cancel. I urgently and desperately sought a replacement, and Louis Halton Davies swooped in at the last minute to save the day.

Stacey rescheduled her appearance to the upcoming Meet #15, but then realised she could no longer honour the date. She asked if I could accept Christopher Czermak – one of her employees – to replace her, doing the exact same talk. As much as gender balance is important to me, it would’ve been really unfair of me to say “well, I want a woman instead, so I don’t want Christopher doing the talk.”

The funny thing is: by posting this, I’m drawing attention to it. It might be the case that everyone understands based on the aforementioned circumstances. Or that no one really minds, given the efforts I’ve gone to previously. But I just wanted to explain the situation just in case anyone thought I stopped caring as much, or was simply a giant hypocrite. That ain’t the case.

I’ll continue to work hard to maintain gender balance in our events’ speaker line-ups, but accept that some of the time it may not be possible, due to the circumstances that life throws at us sometimes. It may not work out perfectly or be achievable 100% of the time, but I’ll work on it as much as I can, so that it’s as close as possible.