Women can do anything!

But you wouldn’t know it by the looks of things in the technology, software and startup scene. Last night as I was catching up on some reading, got a tweet from David Crow about a new accelerator in Montreal Founder Fuel: I thought that’s bloody awesome. I wish there were so many accelerators a decade ago when I entered the software industry. Boy that would have been super helpful. And then I checked out their mentor list and BOOM! what the heck: an all male line up? in 2011? In Canada? In one of the most welcoming industries in the world (software) and from friends and colleagues I know. Oh no Founder Fuel you did not!

This is getting very tiring. And needs fixing.

And then I browsed my way to the Grow Conference in Vancouver as I am planning a hacking event in Vancouver in August and to my surprise again: an all male line up for a start up, venture capital and growth conference in the tech space. Really? In 2011? Grow Conference: I love you. I attended your conference last year. But this: you need to fix. Now.

I am a do-er. I am going to give you a solution that I can point to because you are too lazy to do some work. And I am tired of pointing this out every time.

Yes, finding women you can include in your panels, mentorship programs, speakers line ups requires work. I am going to help you help my industry: I will be bringing you a We are Toronto Tech website very soon. NY is doing an awesome job at that with We are NY Tech and a spotlight in women in the industry as well. Take that Toronto. And we will be turning Toronto and Canada upside down to find you the women you need to include in your conferences and programs. In the meantime: you lot are connected to the world, get on your email and do some work please.

I don’t want to hear a peep coming from you unless you are calling me to talk to me about the changes you have implemented. Now go.


  1. Shannon Smith

    Tiring, indeed! Thought you might like to know that a group of Montreal women, disappointed with the current state of affairs, is organizing a women and tech conference, hopefully for the fall. Women, code, startups, entrepreneurship, networking, etc. So, not an all-male, or even mostly-male line-up for once.

  2. Tara 'missrogue' Hunt

    True story. Grow Conference contacts me about 2 months back to tell me that Grow Conference is coming and would love my help ‘promoting’ it. I thought, “Okay. Sure. I won’t be hurt that they didn’t ask me to speak. Must be a great lineup.”

    Then they send me the link to blog/tweet and I go and see the same thing as you did: ALL MEN (except for conference organizer Debbie Landa). So, I send a note back, “I can’t promote this. I’ll be throwing you into the lion’s den.”

    I get an excuse back: “We asked women. There just aren’t very many funded/exited founders or VCs/Angels.” Hmmmm…lots of the speakers aren’t exited OR founders, but okay…

    So I took a TOTAL OF 10 MINUTES to do a quick search:

    Women 2.0’s list of female founders with milestones this year and last
    – 2010 – http://www.women2.org/2010-female-founder-startup-successes/ (not all have raised rounds, but most in this list have) – notably Jessica, founder of GetAround who just won the TCDisrupt NYC
    – 2009 – http://www.women2.org/2009-founder-successes/

    As for women angels/VCs:

    Oh…then I hopped over to see that the TC Disrupt winner just ONE WEEK AGO was a WOMAN who is also a CANADIAN!!! (GetAround.com)

    Then got the lamer excuse that the speakers had to be GOOD. Hmmmm…I’ve known some really awful male founder speakers that get asked over and over again to speak. So, I fired her the description for the CEO of Skimlinks (woman) who is also a well-known and celebrated public speaker: http://skimlinks.com/about

    Oh and yeah. There is me. Not funded. But I have been paid handsomely to speak because I draw audiences. But whatev.

    As for Founders Fuel. Can’t say I’m surprised. Saddened. But not surprised. The same group passed on Buyosphere because they ‘Didn’t believe in the team’. Some innuendo there, right?

  3. Tara 'missrogue' Hunt

    So…I just got off of the phone with John Stokes from Founder Fuel. It was obviously an oversight on their part (and as they admit in their own post, some laziness), but as John and I discussed, my comment above was a little more bitter sounding than I intended it to be. I had a poor experience with Real Ventures, but that shouldn’t reflect on their character. All sorts of factors go into poor experiences – from all sides of the table.

  4. Leila Boujnane

    @Shannon Smith: Thanks for dropping by. A conference that is inclusive is most welcome. Let me know if I can be of any assistance. A women only conference is not what is needed. It is balance that we need to seek so let’s do that together.

  5. Leila Boujnane

    @Adele McAlear As soon as we have the directory figured out for Toronto, we will open source our tools and approach and Montreal can replicate it. So stay tuned!

  6. Pingback: Technology news - Techvibes.com
  7. Trevor

    For what it’s worth, the Net Change conference at MaRS has a roughly 50% split in speakers. Not all conferences are created unequal.

    Love the idea of the We Are El Toro Tech site, looking forward to that.

  8. Pingback: Tracking the Montreal Women in Tech Debate « Montreal Girl Geeks

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