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From Shadows to Limelight: How women found their voice at WordCamp Montreal


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At Montreal’s first WordCamp, only four women spoke throughout the two-day, two-track event. People noticed. It didn’t feel right. Something had to change. By 2016, we’d had two straight WordCamps with at least 50% women speakers. How did we get from there to here? I’ll look at some of the strategies we used to #changetheratio.

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From Shadows to Limelight: How women found their voice at WordCamp Montreal

  1. 1. FROM SHADOWS To Limelight Kathryn Presner Theme Whisperer • Automa ic • @zoonini HOW WOMEN FOUND THEIR VOICE AT WORDCAMP MONTREAL
  2. 2. 2009 It begins
  3. 3. The First Four
  4. 4. Rachel McCollin If a WordCamp has a healthy proportion of women speaking at it, then that will tell the women a ending that this is a community they can feel part of, and that they too can aspire to speak at WordCamps and WordPress meetups and pass on their knowledge. h ps:// women--cms-26050 “
  5. 5. 2010 The Shannon factor
  6. 6. Brendan Jeremy Shannon
  7. 7. future WordCamper
  8. 8. 2011
 Where are the women?
  9. 9. 2012 Front and centre
  10. 10. It also is about inspiring. When you look at a career path and see only people that look different than you, it becomes a lot easier to drop out and say it’s not for you. [W]hen you look at the breakdown of speakers and don’t see anyone like yourself, you question if you even want to buy a ticket to a end. Aaron Jorbin h ps:// speakers-at-wordcamps/ “
  11. 11. 2013 Nudging
  12. 12. Alex
  13. 13. Alex Kirk Carl Jeremy Shannon Richard
  14. 14. 2014 Fla er nagging
  15. 15. h p://
  16. 16. h ps://
  17. 17. h ps:// er-nag/
  18. 18. 2015 Turning point
  19. 19. Veronica W C M T L
  20. 20. 51%
  21. 21. [T]ransparency helps let people know that you have [diversity] on your own radar. Publishing your participation stats is really useful. We let people know how many women speakers we have, how many apply, how many a end, and we talk about how we want more. It does help. And we talk about wanting to be diverse in other ways too, and that also encourages people to participate. Shannon Smith “ h ps:// speakers-at-wordcamps/
  22. 22. 2016 Passing it on
  23. 23. Andrea
  24. 24. It's Kathryn from Montreal! Last year the Toronto Fringe conflicted with our WordCamp, but this year we're having it a bit later. I still fondly recall your cat-filled theming talk from WC Toronto 2014 and think it would be awesome if you came to Montreal! Would you be interested in submi ing a talk? “
  25. 25. h ps://
  26. 26. Graph courtesy of Shannon Smith
  27. 27. Thanks ! Slides: Twi er: @zoonini Visit:
  28. 28. Photos! Very special thanks to Elida Arrizza, Jeremy Clarke, Kirk Wight, and Eva Blue for photos. Additional early photos by Montreal Tech Watch & Philippe Martin.
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