For me, it was nothing new. I had been a percussionist in high school and college bands – and in those days there were few female drummers.
I had been an accounting major in college. The year I was hired by Arthur Andersen in Houston, there were two women and 298 men starting.
And I had enjoyed math throughout school and ended up in technology in the 80s – all very male-dominated.
So frankly, it seemed “normal” to be in the minority at an Internet Marketing conference. It certainly made it easy to stand out!
But it also made it hard to blend in. So when “the guys” gathered at the bar each night – or went out on the town to let off some steam, they generally did not include a married mother of three.
For years there was a lot of talk about how women were left out when it came to the “big marketers.” Rarely did you see a woman on the stage, so it was a BIG deal when I was asked to join the panel of experts at the Superconference in 2003. It was less than an hour among 20 men, but I was THERE.
There were calls for “equality” for women speakers on the Internet Marketing stages. There was even a group of women speakers who tried to form an organization to push for women speaking more. But it never gathered much steam.
With all of the talk of equality, it was no surprise when Alex Mandossian and I announced our first Womens Power Summit in 2005. All female speakers. Only women were allowed to attend (except for Alex, who was the MC).
It was a big hit! We held it the day before the Big Seminar in Los Angeles. Since the Big Seminar drew hundreds of people it was the perfect time to gather the women the day before.
And it gave me insight to an important point about events. The nicest thing to do for someone attending an event for the first time is to introduce them to a small group of people the day before. That way they go into the bigger event already knowing people – having friends in the room to sit with and wave to. It makes a huge difference in their comfort level and enjoyment of the conference.
We ran the Womens Power Summit only two years. But it served its purpose. It was a gathering point for women in marketing. It was part of a group of women-only conferences that took place around that period.
I was invited to speak for many of the conferences – because I was a woman speaker in marketing and we were still few and far between. Others during that time included Ali Brown, Lorie Morgan Ferraro, Donna Fox, Lynn Pierce, Jenny Armato, and a bunch of others I’m leaving out!
I have always felt that being in the minority has made it easier for me to stand out in the Internet Marketing arena. Not always to be included – But definitely to leave a mark.