Feminism, a movement that works towards granting equal rights to people of all genders, has been going on for quite some time. But it's 2018 and we still need steps to offer greater inclusion and equal opportunities to women, especially in fields of technology.
And while the struggle for something as simple as equality may, at times, feel too much, there are women who continue to strive through.
Devangana attends tech conferences as part of her role. However amidst all the conferences she attended, there was one common thread - the number of women speakers at these conferences was always zero.
Yes, you read that right. No matter who the organizers of the conference were, they could not find a single women speaker for the panel.
Frustrated, Devangana tweeted about this issue, and received a lot of support.
I have recently come across 20+ well-known ML/AI/Data conferences in India & all of them have 1 thing in common: 0 women speakers. By those statistics, there are no credible women in India to represent the #Data, #ML and #AI space. I can name at least 10 right away! #WomenInData— Devangana Khokhar (@DevanganaK) February 20, 2018
This problem keeps trickling down. 0 women speakers -> almost no female role models -> almost negligible women attendees -> less partnerships and coalitions involving women -> less visibility of women -> need for justifying women in leadership. And it goes on and on.— Devangana Khokhar (@DevanganaK) February 20, 2018
Encouraged by the response, and support of friends, Devangana started to create a list, a public gist, which was a list of women in the data space in India, who she personally knew, followed or interacted with. Social media helped her add a few more names to the list.
The list is meant to serve one purpose, boost the representation of women in the field of technology and enable organizers to reach out to such women.
Devangana spoke with ScoopWhoop and said that "visibility" is the main issue; because even women who exist in this industry are not being given due representation. "Such conferences can be an amazing platform for women to showcase what they bring to the table, and to inspire others," she said.
While the ratio of men and women in fields of data technology is still skewed towards men, representation of women speakers in public conferences can go a long way to encourage budding minds, showcase different avenues that women may not be aware of, and shake off the illogical constrictions that women face.
This is a simple gesture, but one that has the power to bring about greater change, if only people would give it due notice.
You can access the complete list here.