BlogHer ’11: Women who blog.

If you caught me somewhere between the 2-hour shuttle ride and the carb-fest for Saturday breakfast, you would have likely heard me say “no way, not going to BlogHer ’11, this is my last one”.

If you caught me later than that, you would have likely heard me say, “San Diego, here I come!!!”.

Over a week has passed, and so has the chance to truly reflect on the BlogHer conference.  And this is the message that keeps popping in my head.

Keep it about women who blog, not just about mothers who blog.

Remember that one of the BlogHer founders, is happily child-free, as explored most recently in this article summarizing the latest Pew report on childless women.  If one-third of the leadership of the organization is not a mother, then certainly the focus can be on all women who blog, right?

Keep the panels meant to be diverse in socioeconomic status, also diverse in whether someone has mothered a child.  I could not ignore that the Resource Blogging panel consisted of four mothers providing resources for other mothers.  I felt somewhat out of place, perhaps because the moderator specifically suggested it was a session for all.  Did she need to say that, or would it have been best to include someone who is not a mother providing resources for a niche audience?

Besides myself, there are many women out there providing a resource for diabetes or chronic illness who are not mothers.  (That is just one example, not meant to detract from Susan Niebur and what she provides for Mothers with Cancer - not at all!)

And yet, in some of the conversations I had, I knew I needed to remember something else. Even some mothers who blog do not blog about being a mother.   They may be concerned about taking care of their aging parents or about fashion and style, or again, providing a resource not specific to being a mother.

One of my local blogger friends does a great job of resource blogging exploring social consciousness without focusing entirely on motherhood.   I learn so much from her posts despite not being a mother myself.

The thought of togetherness did not escape me at the Humor Blogging panel.  So much diversity in one room (and on one panel), from twentysomethings to fiftysomethings, from mothers to childless women – and we were all seeking out laughter to close out the conference?  That was awesome.  That was what made me say, “San Diego, here I come!!!”.

I know you cannot possibly please everyone.  Somebody is always going to complain about a sponsor or a session or a party.  Keeping large groups of the constituency in mind while planning sponsors, sessions, or parties, however – that can go a long way.

Keep BlogHer ’11 about women who blog, not just about mothers who blog, and I will be there.

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7 Responses to BlogHer ’11: Women who blog.

  1. Kate, aka guavalicious says:

    Obviously as a mom, I am less aware of the the mom focus but of the four sessions I went to, only one was mom centric/had all mothers on panels (and it was the one on feeding the new generation). And it was actually the worst one of the four I attended.

  2. Susan @WhyMommy says:


    You’re right. We didn’t have anyone without children on that panel — or anyone who lived outside the D.C area! I suppose we thought that our diversity was in our topics and approach, as we brought together hyperlocal blogging, a technology focus, a ning group for education, health blogging, and science blogging in one panel. I know now that that’s not enough.

    I can’t speak for the other panelists, but I see now that it would have been good to ask a woman without children to join our panel. I can see that it does matter.

  3. Young Wife says:

    Thanks for the honest review. I’ve never been to a blogging conference, and part of the reason is because I figured it would be all about mommy bloggers.

  4. Becky (Princess Mikkimoto) says:

    Well, I for one, am glad you are going to BlogHer 11 because I am for sure and I already look forward to meeting you.

  5. Jessica McFadden - A Parent in Silver Spring says:

    You’re spot-on: BlogHer is about WOMEN, full stop.

    The only reason we provided the disclaimer was because we were/are sensitive to the fact that our own resource sites happened to be somewhat related to parental status. And also because the format that all BlogHer sessions are supposed to follow is the sharing of one’s own experiences. We would have been able to skip that disclaimer if it were a different type of conference, with a “this is how you should do it” PowerPoint presentation and less personal accounts and back-and-forth sharing with the audience.

    But at least we were conscious of it enough to address the elephant in the room, right? Additionally, some sessions at BlogHer are developed and speakers compiled by the conference organizers, others are proposed by the panelists themselves. We submitted this topic with ourselves as speakers as a possible ROYO session, members voted on the various ROYOs and then our group was selected by the conference organizers. So the lack of diversity of parental status was not the fault of BlogHer.

    I heard similar complaints at BlogHer sessions when all of the panelists happened to be white. Or straight. Or have kids. Or happened to be of one side of the political spectrum. Or a combo of those traits. When sessions have 1-4 speakers, perfect diversity can be tough.

    All in all, I felt that the conference as a whole was inclusive and diverse. I’m glad you did too!

  6. Diana Lee says:

    As I said on Facebook, I’m really torn about BlogHer 11. It will probably come down to the fact that there is nothing even remotely similar to BlogHer out there and I’ll decide to attend again. We’ll see.

  7. Elisa Camahort Page says:

    Thanks for your comments Rachel, I’m that happily child-free founder ;) And I also manage the programming end of BlogHer.

    While Jessica is right that we tend towards panels of 3 or 4, so perfect diversity on each panel is hard, I can speak to diversity across the program. One third of our speakers were women of color this year. 10% were from the LGBT community. We look at age diversity; on politically-focused panels we want ideological diversity. And yes, we make sure moms and non-moms are speaking. Most importantly: We set a metric to have at least 80% of our speakers be new to the BlogHer annual conference roster each year. (That alone encourages diversity.)

    One bit more on the mom thing. We actually experimented with having a dedicated parenting track the last two years, but eliminated it for 2010. We had that track because the truth is, parenting bloggers are a significant part of our community. Out of 42 break-out sessions 3 were parenting focused. 4 if you count the Resource Blogging panel because of its speaker make-up. That doesn’t mean other speakers weren’t moms, but as you point out, not all moms blog about being moms.

    BTW-given that 80% new speakers metric, I hope you’ll submit to either our first phase or our Room of Your Own phase of the programming process. Submit yourself, or submit an idea featuring some of the other great bloggers you know. Eveyr year it’s almost like starting from scratch, and we could use your help :)



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