Stories From GenderAvenger 2015
As we reflect back on the past year, we want to say thank you! Thank you to all of you who joined our community and added your individual voices to a steadily growing roar for change. Along the way, we counted many new friends and some notable successes.
GenderAvenger and Launch Festival
During the March 2015 Launch Festival, GenderAvenger used the GA Tally to tweet our displeasure at the meager representation of women on stage — only 24%! Men and women in attendance retweeted our tweets, and founder Jason Calacanis raised the issue during a scheduled panel, where he remarked that some people just want to stir things up through Twitter, a sign of his acknowledgement of the GenderAvenger effort.
One of the panelists in the unscheduled gender discussion, Halle Tecco, was moved to later contribute to GenderAvenger, and she sent out this tweet in support of our mission:
I just donated to @GenderAvenger: Challenge It, Change It… [http://www.genderavenger.com/support-us/]
— Halle Tecco (@halletecco), 4 March 2015
Halle has since become a strong supporter of GenderAvenger, hosting events in New York and, ultimately, transitioning her health care conference effort, XXinHealth Speaker Project, to GenderAvenger. Our recognition at the event and following relationship with Halle were a big win for GenderAvenger; however, it was just the beginning.
In September, Launch founder Jason Calacanis started following both GenderAvenger and GenderAvenger founder Gina Glantz on Twitter. He expressed his natural dislike of shaming along with his acceptance of it as an effective tool, speaking of his desire for his 4-year-old daughter to grow up in a different world.
Delighted, Gina reached out to Jason, and they planned a get-together. Over lunch, Gina and Jason found out neither had horns and, indeed, discovered they had common goals, albeit with slightly different approaches to reaching them. The conversation ranged from the state of women in tech, the difficulties of recruiting women to tech events, strategies to overcome those difficulties, and much more.
Although he said he cannot guarantee it, Jason certainly hopes the next Launch event reaches GenderAvenger's 40% goal, and he even tweeted publicly about his commitment:
@SavIsSavvy we always hit 25%+... my friends at @GenderAvenger are challenging me to hit 40%... and we're trying HARD!!!!
— Jason Calacanis (@Jason), 10 September 2015
Thanks to the GenderAvenger community for making such a fuss, and thanks to Jason for taking us seriously, ranking Launch Festival as one of GenderAvenger's first year successes. We look forward to seeing the number of women in the next Launch line-up.
GenderAvenger and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation's Annual Fiscal Summit
The 2015 Peter G. Peterson Foundation's Annual Fiscal Summit featured just 16% women speakers and an all-male line-up of special guests. After we tweeted a GA Tally to the Peterson Foundation, they blocked us on Twitter. The GenderAvenger community and women at the event responded with a flurry of objections in the vein of “you don’t have us on stage, and now you don’t want us to have a voice at all!” Within an hour, GenderAvenger was unblocked, but the damage was done. The message had been sent.
The original GenderAvenger tweet was retweeted so many times that it was the top tweet under the #fiscalsummit hashtag for most of the conference. You can be sure we will be following next year’s event closely.
Engaging the Community
GenderAvenger and Esquire Magazine
Esquire Magazine published the list "80 Books Men Must Read." 79 of the books were written by men, and the 80th was written by Flannery O’Connor, who, as one supporter tweeted, “Esquire probably thought was a man.” GenderAvenger put Esquire in the Hall of Shame and featured it in our newsletter. The GenderAvenger community flooded social media with recommendations of books by women authors and created a list of 51 women authors and 56 books by women.
Many community tweets and Facebook posts later, we decided to ask the community to do even more by going to Esquire's website and commenting on the article — a lot to ask in a world of mostly one-click responses. After a week, almost a third of all the comments on the article were clearly generated by GenderAvengers.
GenderAvenger and TechCrunch
More recently, GenderAvenger launched a month-long campaign during which we tracked the speaker gender ratio for TechCrunch’s annual TCDisrupt conference in San Francisco. We featured TechCrunch in the GenderAvenger Hall of Shame twice (first time, second time) and encouraged our followers to tweet to TechCrunch and their conference sponsors about their subpar gender ratio. We ended the campaign with a “two-minute drill” asking subscribers to quickly tweet a GA Tally at TechCrunch during its conference. With 25% women on stage, we thought they deserved some special, real-time attention.
TechCrunch's Twitter feed was filled with more than 20 GA Tally pie charts with black clouds, announcing their Hall of Shame gender ratio to anyone attending or following the conference. The GA Tally image became one of the top photos on Twitter for the event, and one of our Hall of Shame tweets became a top tweet for the event, appearing at the top of the #TCDisrupt Twitter feed during the second day of the conference.
Garrett Boone and the GenderAvenger Pledge
Garrett Boone, Chairman Emeritus and Founder of The Container Store, took signing the GenderAvenger Pledge not to appear on all-male panels seriously. When asked to participate on a panel at the inaugural Culturati Summit in Austin, Texas, Garrett sought more information on the diversity of the participants and sent this note to Eugene Sepulveda, Founder of Culturati and CEO of Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas:
I need to ask you if any women will be serving on the panel. Women and girls' gender equity is a pillar of our family foundation, and I have signed a personal pledge to serve only on panels that include women, and I intend to keep that pledge. Hopefully this is not an issue, but I wanted to bring it up now.
Eugene’s response: “I love this question.” He listed the women currently on panels and leading breakout sessions, saying, "We have been prioritizing this from the start.” Given Garrett’s interest, we expect Eugene to increase recruitment of women before this Spring 2016 event.
Thank you, thank you for making these successes possible. GenderAvenger is just getting started! We look forward to joining with all of you to make even bigger change in 2016. Stay tuned for news on a BIG project we have planned to ensure women’s voices are part of the dialog in the coming presidential election.