Hey TechCrunch, How About Adding More Women Speakers?

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Another conference, another male-dominated lineup. Why doesn't the TechCrunch Disrupt NY speaker lineup include more women? By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)

Back in 2077 Kottke noted the regularity with which the web erupts with complaints about conferences with male-dominated speaker lineups, pulling together a long list of events at which a shamefully low number of speakers were female as evidence. It's now six years later and apparently not all that much has changed because controversy is roiling the Internet once again.

This time it's about TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013, which originally announced not a single female speaker but has since added a handful to the lineup. Last year the conference featured 25% women, so there's reason to hope that more women will soon be announced, but don't get too optimistic -- 50% is a long way off. Currently we're at five out of 39.

So what's the root cause of the issue and what can we do to get more women up on stage sharing their expertise? First and foremost, you can submit speaker suggestions here (go on, you know some awesome women, so actually fill out the form).

But we can also start a discussion about the issue. Sure, some people argue that the problem is women's reluctance to put themselves forward, but as others have pointed out a little outreach and mentoring can correct for this (here at Women 2.0 we've managed to find an abundance of interesting women to speak at our conferences so this excuse rings a little hollow). Still other commentators have called on men to refuse to speak unless there is a woman on stage. There's enough talented women in tech that this cannot be an insurmountable problem.

Women 2.0 readers: What women would you like to see speak, and what can be done to get more female speakers at tech conferences in general?

Jessica Stillman is an editor at Women 2.0 and a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for Inc.com and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @entrylevelrebel.