I have a lot in my queue to blog about: HostingCon 2006 in Vegas, setting up a blog for Simpli corporate, etc. But one quick blog just for the record:
I’m here at BlogHer, which is a conference here in San Jose (finally! A conference comes to ME!) for women bloggers. So far it’s been fascinating, with a lot of good sessions on what to blog about, what not to blog about, how to reconcile multiple identities (for instance, my identity as “Erica” vs. my identity as “owner of Simpli Hosting”), and, of course, women-related topics like kids, self-image, etc.
The thing I found the most interesting, however, is the men at BlogHer. Since this conference is dominated by women, the men look a bit intimidated overall. As Scoble pointed out, “It is weird being one of only three men in a sea of people at a party. Now I know what it feels like at a usual tech conference, albeit in reverse.” YES. THANK YOU!
So how do the men react to it? They form little groups of men. It’s like they need to have some bonding experience by being the only men at a women-oriented tech conference. During every break, I watch one guy go up to another guy and start a conversation that then allows them to ignore the throngs of women around them. And it’s weirder yet what happens after that. As if they have some male homing beacon out, the other men at the conference come up and join the little group. I’ve eavesdropped and the conversations typically are about some non-blog-related tech item. One of the male groups was having a hearty debate about community wireless, for example. (I admit I was eavesdropping because I wanted to hear the juicy “OMG women” gossip, but it seems as though the male groups are uncomfortable discussing women…probably because they realize with so many women in close proximity, they could get beaned on the head for any comment that might possibly be taken the wrong way.)
This is most interesting to me because I am very used to being the only woman at tech conferences. For instance, at HostingCon, Simpli was again (as far as I know) the only woman-owned company presenting. In fact, at this point, having said this many times and never having been proved wrong, I am ready to declare Simpli the largest female-owned hosting company out there in terms of revenue. (And again, I will state my standard disclaimer that if you can find a woman-owned web hosting company larger than Simpli, I would love to have a mentor!) At HostingCon, the only other women there were either regular employees of a company or someone’s wife/girlfriend. (Or booth babes. Sigh.) It’s tough. I won’t argue that it’s easy being one of the only women out there. But I don’t think we create little “women groups” that exclude men at tech conferences, either. Techie women are used to being in a room with all men and being mostly OK with that. It comes with the job description. But men aren’t used to that. Techie men are used to dominating the scene they’re in. That’s why I found BlogHer, and the men here, so fascinating.