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I co-host the meetup Agile on the Bench with Cara Bermingham. We have been collecting stats of perceived gender diversity (counted rather than surveyed) since it started in Nov 2014. This post is sharing those stats and some observations.

When I set it up (originally with David Lowe) we set a rule about speakers, 50% of them should be women, it felt like the right thing to do and reflected the organiser team. We book two speakers every meetup, so the sums are easy.

People don’t necessarily explicitly notice this, one attendee this month was surprised when I told them, but there has been a clear impact on the gender makeup of the event.

We regularly have near 50% women in the audience 

We have run 17 meetups so far

  • At 13 of them, there have been 35% or more women attending
  • At 9 of them, there have been 40% or more women attending
  • At 6 of them, there have been 45% or more women attending
  • At 3 of them, there have been 50% or more women attending
Agile on the bench gender diversity graph
Attendee gender diversity (audience and speakers) at Agile on the Bench

The most up to date stats are on a live chart here

Women ask to speak as much as and sometimes more often than men

We plan a few months in advance and our female speaking slots are often filled up first. I put this down to a number of reasons:

  1. The audience is friendly. This is down to the diversity of the audience, the relaxed location and that many speakers are regular audience members too.
  2. Talks are short (10mins), this makes them less daunting
  3. We encourage new speakers, we ask regular attendees to speak and give them encouragement along the way

Although this only covers gender diversity, I want these stats to encourage other meetup organisers that diverse meetups are possible and that putting targets in place can be a positive thing. I’d love to hear about other people’s experience and learning in this space and I’d encourage all meetup organisers to share their own.

If you want to know more or make commitment to better diversity, take a look at my project The Diversity Charter