A few weeks ago at Search Engine Strategies (SES) the trend a few of us picked up on was the increase in female attendees. And we’re not talking about Ms. Dewey, who burst onto stage in the middle of Danny Sullivan’s interview with Microsoft’s Steve Berkowitz.
Some would argue the observations are inaccurate. Sullivan posted on his own blog that “there has always been a strong presence of women commenting on search and search marketing” including attending the show. He maintains speaker and panelist discussions are programmed to have a mix of men and women at the podium. Though some attendees I spoke with called this into question, “panels have a token female.” On the third day of the show I noticed something interesting. A panel with all men on stage had more women than men in the audience, though it was about even. The next panel I sat in on had three women speaking and more men in the audience.
Additional reports of the trend include columns on ClickZ written by Rebecca Lieb and Shari Thurow (who spoke on the one female-dominant panel discussing image search) discussed what it means to be a woman in the search space. All three of us attended the informal yet well-attended lunch for women in search arranged by Li Evans who contributes to Search Marketing Gurus where the industry’s women, whether you contend it’s few or many, are regularly highlighted.
Whether more women are in the industry, and attending SES and other industry shows, or we’re just waking up to it, there are a few theories: Data isn’t just for men anymore. SES attendance is expanding from search to related professions held by women. Those related fields are sales, marketing, PR, and marketing pros at brands. It is clear there has always been a core group of women in the search field.
Somewhat related, the New York Women’s Media Council released the results of a survey of New York area senior professionals working in film, television, and advertising. Survey respondents chose to work in media for several reasons including passion for the work (43 percent); personal interest (44 percent); intellectually stimulating and challenging (26 percent). Advice for women, which can be applied to search fields, is to learn the skills and knowledge of the business; be flexible; keep up with technology; learn multiple skills; and look for opportunities to network and get recognition.