SXSWi – AKA the South-By-Southwest Interactive Conference held annually in Austin, Texas – has become the de facto once-a-year mecca for the digital, tech and new media industry. It’s a place for new products to gain traction – like Twitter, Foursquare and GroupMe, which all became stars out of the conference – and it’s also where partying doubles for networking as new drinking buddies become new contacts, colleagues and partners in new ventures. It is a place of visibility, access and opportunity – which means that women should be right there in the mix.
Last year’s attendance numbers were the highest ever, and this year is looking to outpace that – and that extends to the SXSW Panel Picker.
The SXSW Panel Picker is the where all the proposed panels for next year’s event are posted to be examined, discussed and – most importantly – voted on by upcoming attendees. According to SXSW, voting from the public accounts for about 30% of the decision-making process for SXSW panel programming. (The SXSW Advisory Board (40%) and the input of the SXSW staff (30%) make up the other percentages.)
That first 30% is incredibly influential – especially if you can demonstrate that your panel has hit a nerve. This means having a panel with vigorous comments and lots of upvoting (as any social media guru will tell you, influence is everything! In fact, there is probably a panel for that). Your vote WILL matter – and will make the difference in what panels are selected.
So what constitutes an amazing panel? Well, great content presented by smart people, of course, but another initiative important to the SXSW 2012 planning team this year is diversity. As the tech industry continues its rapid evolution, diversity of voices has been key in this growth with women-lead initiatives leading the charge.
According to data scientist Emma Persky, a New York developer at Hashable, the number of women submitting proposals to the SXSW Interactive Panel Picker has increased by 8 times over the last 5 years, from just 140 in 2008 to over
1200 this year. The increase in female speakers, however, has been decidedly less notable. According to Persky, “[t]he rapid growth in submissions to the SXSW Panel Picker is being driven by women.” (Click here to see the entire analysis.)
Which means that in 2012 we should be seeing even more amazing panels led by women, right? Right – but it couldn’t hurt to vote for a few, just to be safe. To that end, Change The Ratio has assembled a list of some of most interesting panels featuring some of the smartest women in this industry. Change the Ratio is predicated on the belief that visibility begets access begets opportunity – and we want to maximise it all for women next year at SXSW 2012.
So, without further ado, here is the list – vote, comment, discuss and share so that we can maximise this groundswell and see the best and brightest of women in tech shine at SXSW next year. We know we didn’t catch everything, so please also feel free to suggest other awesome panels in the comments section of this post. (You should be commenting on the panels in the comment section on the SXSW Panel Picker!).
Good luck to all submission hopefuls – can’t wait to see you in March!