The old adage that ladies get no love in tech is a thing of the past, at least here in Austin, TX. On Saturday March 13, a group of 90 wave-making women gathered at the top of Frost Bank Tower (the building that looks like a giant nose hair trimmer) to honor eight powerhouse female players in tech and social media. Organized by cause-based consultant Sloane Berrent and publicist Sarah Evans, the “Digitini” luncheon celebrated raconteur Cathy Brooks of Other Than That, Altimeter Group's Charlene Li, CNN's Jennifer Martin, Read Write Web's Jolie O'Dell, Facebook's Randi Zuckerberg, Comcast's Shauna Causey, Porter Novelli's Stephanie Agresta and PGi's Jackie Yeaney.
Friends old and new, including plenty who were meeting for the first time in real life, praised one another's work and developed strategic partnerships over martinis and quiche. From coders to account managers to CEOs to entrepreneurs, the women of SXSW Interactive are in business for a reason.
Berrent said an afternoon with boys on the side made for a perfect Saturday. While there was no shortage of gratitude and esteem among the dynamic group of women, the shortage of females at South by Southwest overall was mentioned.
“Men have a lot of opportunities to connect at South by Southwest, and there's such a smaller number of women here,” said Berrent. “So bringing everyone together in an environment that was really welcoming and empowering was a great for us all to pay our respects to one another.”
During the recognition session, Randi Zuckerberg said she didn't realize there were this many women at South by Southwest. In response Cathy Brooks said, “There's only three that aren't here and they're all on panels right now.”
But if the speed of tech innovation and the power of Web 2.0 are any indication of what's to come, it won't be long before the panels are packed with fempower.