Travis Foundation

Public discourse needs more diversity!

Maren Heltsche is the project manager and one of the developers of speakerinnen.org. Her passions are DIY, digital media and programming Ruby on Rails with Railsgirls Berlin. She is also the co-founder and editor of the online magazine Rosegarden and head of the local chapter Berlin of the Digital Media Women. Maren works as a freelance data analyst and project manager.


Speakerinnen.org is a platform that aims to increase the visibility of women* on stages and in media coverage. In the tech industry but also in many other areas there are few women and people from underrepresented groups. That’s a disappointing status quo and we have to hack it. Girls need female role models, women* need the assurance that another view on the topic, i. e. theirs, is equally relevant.

Speakerinnen logo
Image: speakerinnen.org

There are many competent women* around who are willing to speak in public. And speakerinnen.org gives them a platform to show their expertise. Event organizers can search the directory to find women speakers for their conferences, and journalists can reach out to experts for interviews. The platform is steadily growing and today lists almost 1.000 women who provide a broad range of topics. It’s a list of 3.500 topics that vary from internet & media over arts & culture to science & technology. Speakerinnen.org was launched in March 2014 and was built by the Rubymonstas, a Berlin-based Rails Girls study group. Isn’t this a nice story? Women who learn to code, train their coding skills by building an app that helps raising gender balance. Yay! And it’s not only a nice story but also a lot of fun still maintaining the project and seeing it grow. Also, seeing ourselves and our programming skills grow by solving real life issues is amazing.

The Rubymonstas is also where we met Sven Fuchs from Travis Foundation who is our coach and mentor and runs the study group every monday - since 2012. Thanks to the Foundation we can host speakerinnen at Heroku and were able to print these beautiful postcards.

Speakerinnen postcards Photo: Anika Lindtner

But it’s not only small things: we can always rely on the support of the Travis Foundation people helping us out with good advice and networking as well as giving us a legal entity to refer to plus a structure and platform to collaborate. We are steadily working on improving the app and adding new features (see our code and open issues on Github). We are also working on getting more women listed and more event organizers using this directory. We’ve recently improved the search function and turned the 50prozent blog project into its own database to document gender ratio for public talks; you can read more about it in our latest blog post.

Our work is not only focused on technical issues but also implies community building, marketing and networking. We want the public discourse to be more diverse. That also means: To create awareness for the imbalance. For these discussions follow us on twitter, read our blog and help us count the gender ratio at conferences. If you are a conference or event organizer: Go to our website and find your speakers! But most importantly: If you identify yourself as a woman* and you have something to say, create a profile on our list. If that isn’t the case: Recommend speakerinnen.org to others and encourage them to sign up. Thank you for your support!

* When we say women * we mean everyone who defines herself as a woman.

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