Female speaker ideas for the tech start-up conference that’s struggling to find women

Female speaker ideas for the tech start-up conference that's struggling to find women


Earlier this week, our sister publication StartupSmart reported that SydStart, one of the country’s largest startup conferences, has announced its first round of ten speakers. 

They all share one thing in common. They’re all men.

This wasn’t deliberate — the conference organisers said they asked plenty of women to speak at the event but many were asking for money, something they do not provide.

The organisers have also promised to keep trying, and noted we can expect to see women in the second line-up of speakers to be announced shortly. 

To help, we thought we’d provide a list of relevant Australian female entrepreneurs who’re working in the tech space. We’ve spoken to or heard from almost everyone on this list and can guarantee they will be excellent talent. If the conference organisers need help getting in contact with anyone below, we’d be happy to help.

Finding great female talent for panels and conferences is not as challenging as some event organisers often claim. However, it can require moving away from the usual suspects.

In the last few months I’ve moderated panels of female founders for General Assembly and Women’s Agenda both in Sydney and Melbourne. We’ve worked with twenty female founders in total across four separate events. It wasn’t a struggle to find these women. They weren’t hiding. In fact most are rather prolific on social media. We also didn’t have to book months in advance because women are “too busy” to take part in such events. Usually these free events are organised with just a few weeks notice. 

So finding women isn’t that hard. What is getting increasingly difficult for conference organisers is attempting to justify why an event is produced with very few – if any – female voices involved. As we’re written previously: if you run an all-male panel session of male-dominated conference expect to get some “feedback”.

Below’s our list of great female entrepreneurs in the tech space. This list is in no way definitive and we know our readers will have plenty more suggestions. So go ahead. Share your suggestions in the comments field below.

Alli Baker and Fiona Anson, co-founders and co-CEOs of Workible, a mobile recruitment platform enabling employers and jobseekers to connect 

Catriona Wallace, serial entrepreneur, founder of software company Flamingo and founder of The Ventura, a co-working space for women-led technology businesses

Cyan Ta’eed, co-founder and executive director of Envato, an ecosystem of sites helping people be creative 

Deb Noller, co-founder and CEO of Switch Automation, an onlne intelligence building platform 

Emily and Sarah Hamilton, co-founders of Bellabox, an online beauty subscription service

Emma Lo Russo, co-founder and CEO of Digivizer, a company searching and analysing the social web for insights 

Gen George, founder and managing director of OneShift, an online jobs market 

Grace Chu, founder of First Click Consulting, a marketing agency specializing in SEO and SEM.

Jane Lu, founder and CEO of Showpo, an online clothing retailer

Jo Burston, founder of recruitment company Job Capital and founder of Rare Birds, supporting female entrepreneurs

Jodie Fox, co-founder of Shoes of Prey, offering custom-designed shoes online

Karen Cariss, co-founder of PageUp People, offering HR and people management software

Kate Carruthers, co-founder of Social Innovation Sydney, Creation Nation and Moore’s Cloud

Kate Morris, founder of Adore Beauty, an online beauty retailer 

Lauren Hall, founder and CEO of Ivvy, offering online event management and registration software

Mandy Gunsberger, founder and CEO of Babyology, providing high-quality product-focused editorial content for parents 

Maxine Horne, co-founder and joint chief executive of Vita Group, an ASX-listed telecommunications company.

Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva, an online platform allowing ‘anyone to create professional quality design’.

Naomi Simson, founder of RedBalloon, an online gift provider.

Nicole Kersh, former founder of 4Cabling and The Content Folk

Rebekah Campbell, founder and CEO of Posse, a social network for discovering great places 

Renata Cooper, angel investor and founder of Forming Circles

Richenda Vermeulen, director of Ntegrity, a creative digital agency 

Sali Stevanja, co-founder of Stylerunner, an online activewear retailer 

Stacey Jacob, founder of TidyMe, offering cleaning services online

Susan Wu, leading investor and advisor to startups. Leading local team for Stripe, a payment software provider

Tessa Herd-Court, founder and CEO of IntelligenceBank, providing management solutions to enterprises

Vanessa Wilson, co-founder and CEO of StorReduce, offering software for enterprises to reduce their cloud storage costs 

Vicky Teoh, co-founder of TPG, a major telecommunications provider

Zoe Pointon, co-founder of OpenAgent.com.au, a platform for sourcing local reat estate agents

This article was originally published on Women’s Agenda.


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