She Should Talk At TED Twitter Campaign: F.A.Q.

by cv harquail on March 6, 2011

The @SheTalksTED Twitter account has been busy this week, nominating over 350 influential women (and counting!) as possible speakers for future TED conferences. In addition to lots of suggestions, and support, we’ve also gotten some questions about the @SheTalksTED campaign. We hope that our answers, below, fill in the blanks.

Please tweet us or send a message on the Facebook page, if you have more questions, suggestions and nominations!

  • What is the goal behind SheShouldTalkAtTED?
  • What has @SheTalksTED achieved so far?
  • How did @SheTalksTED identify women to nominate?
  • Are you worried that the list of nominees is skewed one way or another, and that the list is missing women whose ideas also have merit?
  • How can additional women (and men) be added to the list of @SheTalksTED nominees?
  • Who are the people behind behind SheShouldTalkAtTED?
  • What’s been surprising about @SheTalksTED effort so far?
  • Where did the descriptions of nominees come from?
  • Has there been any response to @SheTalksTED from the official TED organization or from @TEDChris or Kelley Stoetzel?
  • What’s next for SheShouldTalkAtTED?
  • What can we do to support SheShouldTalkAtTED?

Q: What is the goal behind SheShouldTalkAtTED?

It’s really simple: Women have at least half the big ideas in this world, though this is not generally recognized. We think that women’s voices and ideas should be represented equally, along with men’s voices and ideas, in our cultural conversation.

Our long-term goal is parity between male and female speakers on the stage at TED’s annual conferences (TED in Long Beach and TEDGlobal).

Our first step is to engage the Curators of TED, Chris Anderson and Kelley Stoetzel, in a conversation about how TED can get an equal number of women and men in the TED speaker lineup. And, because real gender parity is more than just adding a few more women to the line up ( –or, for that matter, having an occasional TEDWomen conference that’s just “about” women) we believe TED would also be enriched by getting down into the DNA of the TED organization to root out sexism and build in inclusivity.

We are sure that TED does not intend for either conscious or unconscious sexism to get in the way of finding and presenting “ideas worth spreading”.

Our immediate goal, with the @SheTalksTED Twitter activity, is to raise awareness of the need for gender parity at TED, and to raise awareness of the huge –really huge– number of women with terrific ideas that TED should be considering as speakers.

Q: What has @SheTalksTED achieved so far?

One immediate benefit of the @SheTalksTED activity is that we now have a great group of followers, each of whom is now learning about this growing collection of interesting and important women. The women we’re nominating are thinkers and doers whose work she should pay attention to and whose ideas we should follow on Twitter.

A second immediate benefitis that our running list of nominees demonstrates just how many influential women are out there! This should counteract any possible excuse that there is not enough female talent to support gender parity on the TED stage. Like #womaninnovator, #ChangeTheRatio, and other Twitter campaigns, @SheTalksTED increases the visibility of women changemakers who could be invited to TED as speakers.

Q: How did @SheTalksTED identify women to nominate?

We started with what social scientists call a “convenience sample”. We went to our own Twitter lists of feministas, amazing women, and women with great ideas, and created nominations from these lists of fascinating women.

On the plus side, this tactic created an eclectic group of women that we each had put on a list for one reason or another. As different as they are, the women in this group have one thing in common (beyond being mostly women) – The ideas and contributions of these nominees have gotten our attention because they are interesting. They have great ideas, great insights, great wisdom. They are funny and thoughtful.

On the downside, we know that our list of nominees is limited—there are certainly more women, different women that we aren’t aware of yet, who have ideas worth sharing. It’s exciting that people are responding to our invitation to nominate women that they think are interesting— on the SheShouldTalkAtTED Facebook page and in the Twitter stream too.

Q: Are you worried that your list of nominees is skewed one way or another, and that you are missing women whose ideas also have merit?

No, we’re not terribly worried. Since the nomination process is open, it’s easy to include anyone. We’re all invited to nominate more women. If you think we’ve missed someone so far, you can nominate her and make sure she’s included.

Also, we feel pretty confident about the ‘quality’ of the women who we all are nominating. We see the @SheTalksTED effort as crowdsourced curation. We’re curating a list based on what we collectively believe and understand to be ideas worth sharing.

We are not setting ourselves up as arbiters of some quote unquote objective standard of quality or relevance.

Q: How can additional women (and men) be added to the list of  @SheTalksTED nominees?

There are two ways to nominate women (and men) for SheShouldTalkAtTED:

1. Send a nomination via twitter, to @SheTalksTED, with her twitter name, a brief description of why her ideas are worth sharing, and anything else you can fit.

2. Send a nomination via Facebook, by joining the discussion page: Nominations Open! SheShouldTalkAtTED.

We’ll take these nominations and add them to our Twitter feed, Twitter list, and Facebook Page list.

Q: Who are the people behind behind SheShouldTalkAtTED?

On the @SheTalksTED twitter account, the main tweeter is @CVHarquail, of AuthenticOrganizations, in NYC/NJ, along with Susan Macaulay, of AmazingWomenRock, in Dubai.

The larger, emergent SheShouldTalkAtTED initiative is supported by energy from:

We’ve also been joined by a number of women and some men who’ve volunteered to participate in whatever kind of activity we do next. We’re looking forward to growing the movement towards gender parity at TED – and beyond.

Q: What’s been surprising about @SheTalksTED effort so far?

Personally (cvh specifically), I’ve been surprised (and also gratified) by the number of people who are RT-ing the nominations, who are replying to us on Twitter, and who have reached out to offer support via email. It’s exciting to see how many different people are appreciating the growing list, and telling us why.

Of course, it’s nice to see people reply with surprise, and gratitude, because we have nominated them. It is really fun to be able to tell someone that her work matters to us. But it goes beyond people being thankful for individual recognition. People seem really jazzed to recognize that there is a large group of women with great ideas–many of whom are new to them and will really contribute to their world.

Another thing that has surprised me is that dozens of folks have told us that they appreciate the “content” of the tweets. I hadn’t really thought about it a priori, but people enjoy and appreciate the descriptions we’ve given of the nominees. We were really just trying to explain why someone was nominated—and now we’ve realized that this content is helping people find and follow nominees with interests that mesh with their own interests.

Q: Where did the descriptions of nominees come from?

Well, really it was just by asking ourselves the question–“Why do I follow this woman on Twitter?” and then quickly typing out the answer.

(cvh, who wrote most of them, adds) This has led to some idiosyncratic explanations—for example, we nominated a few women because they are ‘kickass” activists (which is clearly my characterization of them, not really their individual idea ‘content’) So, the nominations might convey more about a person’s attitude & approach than her wisdom.

Q: Have there been any response to @SheTalksTED from the official TED organization or from @TEDChris or Kelley Stoetzel?

We haven’t heard anything from them or from TED staff through Twitter – We had wondered if they might tweet us back, since we’ve added hundreds of tweets to the #TED2011 stream over the past week. And, we haven’t heard anything on any of our public blog posts or the Facebook page.

Of course, all three of these channels (Twitter, blogs, Facebook) are social media, and it may be that the best way to communicate with TED as an organization is through more direct, private channels like email, or even a formal hard copy letter. We haven’t reached out to Chris Anderson or Kelley Stoetzel specifically and directly in either of those ways yet. And we will, in the next few weeks.

Q: What’s next for SheShouldTalkAtTED?

We’ve got a bunch of initiatives, on different levels.

On Twitter with @SheTalksTED, we’ll continue to nominate women via Twitter and our Facebook page, and we’ll put together a Twitter list and a page of all the nominees so that people can find and follow them easily.

On Facebook at SheShouldTalkAtTED, we’ll be expanding and organizing our presence there so that people who aren’t on Twitter but who are on Facebook can find us and so we can find them, and so that people can join in the effort.

With regard to the TED organization, we’ll be inviting them to meet with a group of us in April. And, we’ll be starting an official ‘nomination-a-thon’ campaign, so that people can officially nominate women with ideas worth sharing, using TED’s official nomination form.

And, in physical space, we’re organizing our first SheTalks MeetUp in NYC, where women (and men) with ideas worth sharing can come and present their work to each other. Although we want TED to include women and men equally, we don’t need to wait for TED … we can continue to share our ideas with each other.

Q: What can we do to support SheShouldTalkAtTED?

  • Follow us on Twitter at @SheTalksTED, retweet nominations you like, offer new nominations, and contribute relevant blog posts (and other content) that we can share to the larger group.
  • Like and join our page on Facebook (SheShouldTalkAtTED). Participate in the conversations/discussions, offer nominations, tell your friends about the initiative, and join in wherever.
  • Tell us if you have connections to folks at the TED organization, so that we can connect with them in a friendly and warm way to offer our support.
  • Write about the SheShouldTalkAtTED initiative on your own blog – adding your own ideas, concerns, and suggestions. Let us know so that we can promote your post by sharing it with the @SheTalksTED followers
  • Email and Tweet us with your ideas on how to keep the initiative growing, and how we might make it more effective.
  • Start your own #GenderParity & #MoreVoices -related initiative. Let us know about it so that we can support you too.

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