Women in the Domain Name Industry
Earlier this year, GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving had an article about women in technology published on Fortune.com. Blake’s piece makes a strong case for the link between diversity and innovation and the insight that female technologists bring to the table. This applies to the domain industry as well. While there have been women employed within the industry, domain conferences are still dominated by males.
Several years ago, DomainFest started a “Women in Domaining” portion of their conference. It carried over to NamesCon. This is a great step for the industry, but it’s just that – a step. To help move domaining forward, women are going to play a vital road. Blake Irving explained why:
“Of course, we’ve long intuited that diversity of thought leads to novel solutions, but more and more the diversity theory is being backed by hard data. In a study released in May by the University of Castilla la Mancha, Spain, researchers analyzed the make up and results of more than 4,000 R&D teams around the world and found that gender diverse groups can lead to greater creativity and better decisions. However, the tech industry has an equally important reason to court women developers and tech leaders: women are the majority consumers of tech. Despite the long-running stereotypes to the contrary, women purchase and use more technology than men. Women purchase more tablets, laptops and smartphones; download more music, movies and games; make the majority of household technology purchasing decisions; and utilize devices and services, from games to social media, more than their male counterparts, according to research over the past two years from the market intelligence firm Park Associates.
Understanding how women adopt and utilize technology are two of the most important insights the tech industry can glean—and there’s no better way to do that than to have women build and lead product development.”
More than 50 percent of small businesses in the U.S. are run by women, yet the majority of aftermarket is being run by men. How can this impact selling or buying domain names? A number of ways. Are you registering the right domain names? Are your emails targeted toward men or women? Are the landing pages going to drive interest in both genders?
Why aren’t there more women in the industry?
So women bring a different perspective to the industry. There is probably a specific market available for women who want to buy domains. So why are the women missing? Blake has an idea:
“Of all the causes that could narrow the pipeline of women in tech from 74% to 20%, I suspect the principal contributor is that the environment we’ve created in tech is simply off-putting to most women.
Juxtaposed by the steady stream of stories women have shared about their bizarre/creepy Higher Ed and Silicon Valley experiences, rationales like ‘lack of role models’ and ‘subtle biases’ quickly lose explanatory power. In both venues, we have built environments where men can be highly performant—and made the assumption that because men flock there, women will want the same. They clearly don’t. What’s worse, the more women who leave tech or opt never to enter, the more unwelcoming the environments potentially become. The compounding effect of this negative feedback loop is anything but subtle, and it’s keeping our industry behind the curve on this issue.
Have industry events in the past had events or activities that could cause women to not attend? To go a step further, are there activities in events designed to include women. Aside from the NamesCom session, what other activities are there?
I’ve worked with a number of excellent women in the domain industry at GoDaddy including GoDaddy domains team members Barb Rechterman, Theresa Geraghty, Christine Cross, Michelle Hedtke, Mea Vandever, Sarah Ptalis and many others. Their perspective has been invaluable and they have truly helped drive innovation within GoDaddy and Afternic. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the product offerings we have today would be far less refined without their knowledge of the customer base and attention to detail. That’s why in the past year, GoDaddy has more than doubled its women interns and new college graduate hires in its technology ranks.
And of course the broader domain industry has been indelibly shaped by female industry stalwarts like Andee Hill, Lori Anne Wardi, Bari Meyerson, Lisa Box, Tessa Holcomb and Amanda Waltz and their mostly female sales crew at Igloo.com, Donna Mahony and Simonetta Batteiger. These are women who have been putting their heart and souls into domains for 10+ years and continue to lead the charge in a male-dominated industry. I’m sure I forgot someone, but know that your efforts are appreciated.
So where do we go from here? First, as an industry we need to recognize that diversity in a business is a great thing. Look for employees who can add a different perspective and over-emphasize employees that bring different backgrounds and experiences. For investors, when looking for trends in domain names, know that plenty of women out there are looking for domain names too, so try to tap into their naming styles/conventions as much as possible.