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Changing the conversation for diverse founders

As a women who has worked in tech for over 20 years, I've been asked to speak a lot. I've spoken on BBC Newnight about digital profiles and the "right to be forgotton". I've spoken at larger digital conferences about account management and the importance of understanding a brief. And I've spoken at the wonderful Tech Exeter about inclusive innovation vs exploitation. I love speaking on these topics and being asked to speak from my areas of expertise.

However, as a women who has worked in tech I also often get asked to speak about that and just that. "What is it like to be a women in tech?" "Why are there not more women in tech?" "Why should we have women in tech?" "Why is it hard to be a women in tech?" It is sad to me that my talk at Women of Silicon Roundabout on the topic of my experience of maternity discrimination, was my biggest audience to date. While this is an increadibly important and critical conversation, as a female founder, I have a lot more to say about the industry than just the state of bias that persists. Espeically as "being a women in ..." is a talk that continues to be given by 100's of other women in a number of industries, unfortuntely usually to an audeince of mainly other women. At some point it starts to feel more like large scale group therapy than a tech conference.

And I think a lot of diverse founders are in the same boat. They are asked to speak not about the work they are doing, but rather almost to explain their own existiance, often with a focus on just one charitaristic rathern than in multifacited talented speakers they are.

So when it came to developing our talks and speaker lineup for Ctrl Alt Del I wanted to do something different. I didn't want to invite speakers to talk about their conditions, I wanted to invite them on stage to talk about the amazing things they are creating, building and doing. How they have taken their lived experiences and are applying it in new and exciting ways to create a better future for others.

I don't want to talk anymore about why companies should hire more women. I want to talk about the accessible digital training programs I am creating to help change the industry. Or the products I'm building for young girls to get into engineering. And at Ctrl Alt Del, I want our speakers to have the same chance to shine a light on what they are doing. While this might seem like a very small shift in narritave for people being asked to speak it makes a huge difference.

Oh and shock of all shocks, we are paying all of our speakers. We don't have a huge budget (non-profit!) but we want speakers to know that their time and their expertise is valued by us. As someone who has been asked to speak over 20 times at events of all size, I can count on one hand the number of times I've been offered to be paid for my time. We have also made the decision to not inlcude speaker slots within any of our sponsorship packages. So all the speakers you will see at Ctrl Alt Del are there because their ideas, their work, and their impact are what we want to share with the audience.

We hope that for all of you joining us at Ctrl Alt Del this means you can enjoy a summit focused on exciting ideas from a diverse group of experienced and talented experts, while also having a chance to join in the conversation and be inspired in your own journey. And for our speakers, you finally get the stage and spotlight you deserve.

Join us at Ctrl Alt Del on the 21st of Feb in Truro.

You can get your tickets here.

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