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Just one of the many reasons why the search industry is proud to have Rae Hoffman.
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from CarrieHill 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Rae makes me want to be more witty in my writing - a lofty goal! Great article

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from Kai 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I find it interesting that there are fewer women than men in SEO, because when I look at pictures of who works at the search engines, Google in particular, I get the impression that the majority there is women.

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from Michelle 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I find the whole debate about this odd - as I’ve never noted a lack of women in this field. I remember the first conferences Danny held - way back in the day - and the many women both in attendance and speaking. Females rank among the best in this biz, and have for over a decade now - Dana Todd, Jessie Stricchiola, Misty Locke, Christine Churchill, Shari Thurow - to name just a few. I think communities thrive when everyone in the community works together, so I don’t really get the recent clubs that have sprung up to segregate women in this biz (for the record, I know of no official ’men of seo’ clubs but feel free to correct me on that). Or the "women who blog" or "where are the women" etc. discussions. I think the women are there, and always have been. They’re just too busy getting the job done to worry about planting a flag and competing in the blogosphere for notoriety. But perhaps *that* is the thing that is changing.

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from CarrieHill 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Michelle - I think you are right. I dont see a "good ole boy" network in SEO/SEM at all. My company focuses on hospitality marketing and some of the publications (print and online) are run by all men, all over 45-50. This has been a VERY hard area to break into. My boss wants us to be there so I keep trying - but sometimes i feel like it’s a hopeless cause. Apparently working for a huge branded hotel for a century is a requirement or something. I’ll hang here for as long as the SEO/SEM industry will have me :)

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from Michelle 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Carrie - yes, there are absolutely many business sectors where the good ’ol boy mentality thrives (I think esp. with an upper demo) - but I’ve not seen that here in the SEO/SEM world, so you can count on being around for awhile!

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from DariaGoetsch 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Great article. I’ve been in the work force a long time and the SEM industry is the first time I’ve felt I’ve been treated equally compared to the other industries I worked in. I remember in my past career I found out a new manager (a guy) received more money than I did after two years on the job. I’ve been involved in SEM for nine years and can’t imagine doing anything else.

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from netmeg 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 1

It occurs to me to wonder if there really is such a disparity in numbers or if it’s just a perception; there are certainly fewer women on some of the forums and networks on which I participate - and there’s a lot of places I don’t participate, because my time is limited. Maybe we’re just too damn busy.

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from Kai 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Michelle, I think you nailed it: "I think the women are there, and always have been. They’re just too busy getting the job done to worry about planting a flag and competing in the blogosphere for notoriety."

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from laurieh 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Interesting take, but well said. Great tagline for your blog.

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from vanessafox 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 5

I agree that I don’t want people thinking about me in terms of being a woman doing what I do, but just on the merits of what I’m doing. Generally, I don’t even think about it, although every so often, I’ll be in a meeting and realize that every other person in the room is a man, and wonder if any of them are thinking about how I’m a woman and if that changes their perspective. Someone mentioned the search engines seeming to have a balance of women. Google worked really hard to make sure they were finding all the great female candidates, which I think helped. I think about half my team was women, even though CS graduate percentages are much smaller than that. Although anytime I was on a panel with other SE reps, it was always men. I don’t think that meant anything though and it never even crossed my mind until I just read that comment. I’m torn on the salary thing. I see those reports about women making less than men and I don’t know if it’s an actual problem that we need to do something about or if it’s more something like the one off stuff is anecdotal or that there are other underlying causes than gender discrimination. For instance, on the anecdotal front, men must also find out sometimes that they make less than another man for the same job, right? But they wouldn’t think to mention that and perhaps it’s for all the same reasons as a woman who makes less, which obviously would have nothing to do with gender. If there is a gender bias for salary trends, it may not be due to discrimination and more for things like, more women put their careers on hold for a while to have children and that brings down the average, or women on average are less likely to ask for raises or negotiate higher starting salaries than men, or whatever. And it’s a different question -- if something like that is the reason -- why that might be and what should be done about it. But I think it’s too easy to say that women make less because of gender discrimination (which no one here has said, I’m just speaking generally about the types of conversations that tend to go on about this topic). I think a big part may be that fewer women than men are drawn to the technology sector, but regardless of the percentage, we all (men and women) kick ass equally. And I’d agree that in SEO specifically, It’s definitely not seemed to be a men’s club to me. Part of why the salary stuff and all of that doesn’t come into play so much in this field could also be that many SEOs are independent consultants or own businesses and don’t have to deal with legacy corporate issues. (For instance, if you work for a corporation, you may get a certain mandated percentage increase per year, which gets put on hold if you take time off to have a child, but if you’re an independent SEO, you can just charge the going rate for your work period.)

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from netmeg 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 2

At the risk of dating myself, I go back as far as a time where customers who called up and got me (in minicomputer and mainframe sales) would ask if there was a man they could talk to instead, and the actual stated reasons for not paying us as much were because men had families to support and our income was discretionary, and besides we’d probably just end up getting pregnant and leaving anyway. From that perspective, it’s come so far so fast in the last thirty years I still can’t believe I’m not just remembering a past life somehow or something.

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from vanessafox 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Heh. That happened when I was electrical manager at a hardware store in college in the early 90s. I would point the customer at one of the guys on my team, and I would do it with a smile, because I knew that as soon as the customer asked the question, my employee would likely have to say let me ask my manager and walk the customer right back over to me.

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from netmeg 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Yea. About ten or twelve years ago, I was the technical manager at a networking company specializing in SCO UNIX and Netware. At any given point I had seven to ten (male) techs working for me. For fun we’d go over to Best Buy and torture the staff in the computer dept, who would always start out talking down to me because I obviously wouldn’t know anything about computers.

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from cre8pc 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I can vouch for the gender bias on salary since it happened to me in tech fields twice. I’ve been working with computers since 1983. By the time I reached Internet work, I was the most experienced and well-rounded skills wise, and called an "over-achiever" by my (male) bosses. These same bosses explained to me that human resources dictated the pay based on some unknown, mysterious salary data, and what they asked for me was denied based on my gender and what companies pay women. It infuriated them because they (my bosses) respected my work and were requesting higher that average raises and salaries for me that were denied, even with exceptional performance reviews. (One manager actually advised me to start my own business so I would earn the proper money I deserved.) To this day, I can’t imagine ever working for a company again. I don’t trust human resources. There are limits on how many heads we have, arms, legs, and though we magically can do 123 things while balancing a load of laundry on our little finger, it somehow seems to surprise people that we are in the same room as them. Or conferences, forums, offices, speaking panels, etc... :)

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from Michelle 2689 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Yeah - I can remember way back 9 months ago, I was at this SES conference in Chicago ... ahhh never mind ... I think changing perceptions on a large scale, of women in non-traditional (technical, hard science, etc.) roles is a huge challenge. And the stats continue to be against us there (see Vanessa’s comment about the number of female CS grads - same is true for other hard sciences). But it is changing and as it does and as more women enter ’non-traditional’ fields, it will not be so "noteworthy" that there are women in them. A whole other convo could be started on why women don’t go into those fields, but that’s probably for another blog somewhere. I don’t see those same types of biases in SEO/SEM though (caveat: I’m not an SEO/SEM - I just play one on TV). I’ve been around this group (listening to everyone talk bad about us programmer types), going to the conferences, doing SEO/SEM when I’ve been forced to ;-) for about 10 years now, and happily, I just haven’t seen the things I’ve seen in other fields. I’ve seen so many successful women owned and operated firms come up, and have met so many incredible and talented women in this field, that the whole debate honestly strikes me as odd. That being said, this industry has grown exponentially in 10 years ... so I have to say I don’t know what the experience of someone brand new to it is, and it was pointed out to me by a very wise woman that I work with, that perhaps it’s not so easy for newbies to break in. And particularly new women. So I’ve considered that, but still feel like it’s more harm than good to make gender-based distinctions, groups, etc. Separate but equal is inherently unequal. And happily, I just don’t see the men in this space keeping the women down. Far from it!

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from Frogger 2688 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Being a women and having worked in the UK SEO industry for nearly 8 years I can safely say that I have never come across any discrimination against women in our industry. I have come across the odd few patronising old timers who quickly change their tune when they find out I actually own the company but they are usually clients rather than associates or colleagues. The search industry is still a relatively young industry and I think this is why there are no dinosaurs dictating gender imbalance in position and salary. The vast majority of people working in search are enthusiastic, dynamic and far more concerned with innovation and getting results than gender. It’s one of the main reasons I love what I do!!

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from chrisgtl 2688 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I think the best statement from the article is "Be proud of being a woman and representing women well." I’m a newbie to SEO so I can’t say if there’s not enough women, I’m just glad I’m part of the industry now. It took me 8 months of lobbying for the job!

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from ktg249 2687 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Why are women so hard on each other- find me the commentary amongst the men about how men should try to succeed. How they should view their gender, whether they should mention it or not. The long and the short of it is that those women who have been invited to the party don’t see the need and those who are trying to get invited do. Unfortunately it is a sad fact that women are not being paid the same as their male counterparts in most industries, is SEO different? I really don’t know. The point has been made that this site is a popularity contest. Look at the ratios men to women in the top posts-women go out there and support your fellow woman. Make a point of checking out other women’s posts and Sphinn the good. PS- Although Danny is the face of SEL and Sphinn the woman who physically created it remains behind the scenes. Do you know her name?

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from Sugarrae 2687 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Her name is Michelle Robbins and I know that not because she’s a woman but because I beta’ed Sphinn and she was the tech behind it. Again, Michelle did a great job - but I recognize her for the job and not because she is a "woman".

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from Adria 2686 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Whether you look at SEO (by which I think we mean people who are involved in making technical recommendations) or at the people who get CS or other technical degrees, women do go into these areas in smaller numbers. While I’m sure that there is still some degree of social filtering (e.g. discrimination) that lowers the number of women, I don’t think it explains the entire difference. I do think that even if we are successful in removing all potential impediments to women pursuing tech-oriented fields, there will always be fewer women. Why is that necessarily a bad thing? I’m going to go out on a limb here (well, it’s only a social limb, since there’s lots of actual data to back me up) and say that men tend to be more interested in technical things, on average, than women do. Not to say that lots of women aren’t perfectly capable of excelling in technical fields (duh) or that there are lots of men who aren’t. For me the interesting idea is that if there isn’t parity in the numbers of women entering the tech sector, that this is some sort of tragedy or failing on the part of society or even (this is often implied) of women. Because the unexamined assumption is that whatever non-technical things that women choose to do instead must be less valuable than going into technical fields. That is, than going into things that men value. So let’s not assume that some observed disparity in the number of women vs. men in a particular tech-oriented field (say, well-known SEOs) indicates some kind of prejudice, without evidence to support that. It may simply represent a disparity in people’s un-marginalized, not-socially determined interests. And there is nothing wrong with women choosing to focus on other kinds of careers...as long as they are real choices.

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from jackie 2685 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I have to agree with Kai, women are busy doing and very poor at self promotion (maybe too busy or maybe not enough ego). As an example I am currently recruiting 10 "online marketing gooru’s" I have found it very difficult trying to find stand out women who are active and visible "goorus". At the outset I wanted to ensure I have a women - I have monitored many women but they just don’t display that same confidence. I’m guilty myself, maybe that’s why we gather together - for confidence to stand up and speak.

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from Sugarrae 2684 Days ago #
Votes: 1

>>>display that same confidence A lot of industry women have confidence... again, I hate "lumping" - there are some people bad at promotion - and some happen to be women. Many of the women in this industry OOZE confidence as do many men.

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from Michelle 2668 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Interesting recap of recent research that addresses a few of the issues raised in this discussion: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/29/AR2007072900827.html

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from janecopland 2665 Days ago #
Votes: 0

EDIT: never mind.

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from skinner 2656 Days ago #
Votes: 0

This is a superb article, and a fabulous discussion. Thanks for kicking it all of Lisa! :)

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from grnidone 2643 Days ago #
Votes: 0

You have to be really confident in this industry. Man or woman.

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from marymad 2611 Days ago #
Votes: 0

i predict women will dominate this industry.  and the pay will go down.

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