I went along to SCAMP 2012 yesterday and what a fantastic event it was. Friendly, inspiring, smart - there were some great speakers and just as interesting attendees. I particularly liked the format. The curators of SCAMP deliberately selected speakers who wouldn't just stand up and talk to some slides. Clare Reddington brought a lucky dip of props - the audience members picked one and then she spoke about it in relation to her work. Nange Magro presented a prototype of a dress which can be controlled with brainwaves. Salena Godden floored us with her fiery poetry performance. Mixing up talks with performances, conversations and audience participation gave the day a really nice rhythm and flow. One other conferences could learn from.
BUT. This is not what I want to talk about right now. There was one thing yesterday which irked me. Where were all the men in the audience? There must have been about 5 men there, 4 of whom were speaking. What's with this? No need to come because it's just for the ladies?
I ended up having a Twitter debate with SheSays and the lovely @Elinesca about why this had happened.
As you can see, SheSays are adamant that the event is open to everyone to attend and they say so explicitly in the event blurb.
SCAMP is for people who are looking for inspiration beyond the usual creative industry bubble. We welcome thinkers, makers and doers from across the creative, media and communication spaces: cross-platform specialists, publishers, artists, curators, strategists, creative technologists, UX evangelists, writers, designers… and of course, girls and boys are welcome.
But how many people bother to read that? How many are simply put off by the name SheSays? Maybe it's not so much that they think the event is exclusively for women, but that it's somehow more relevant to women (whatever the fuck that means)?
Afterwards one of the few men in the audience told me he'd come along because he was interested in the format. But he did wonder whether he would be welcome and though he was, he did feel weird being one of the only gents representing.
This is terrible and absolutely not what SCAMP is about. As a woman, I feel uncomfortable going to an event that is perceived as only for women. I don't want to join a girls' club. It's just weird.
How can we change this? I don't want to start another boys v. girls debate (yawn), but I would love to hear more thoughts, especially from the men who didn't come.