The Women Speaker Initiative

The Women Speaker Initiative aims to increase the number of women and people of color speaking at conferences and companies, as well as ensure that women and POC speakers have the tools necessary to get paid competitively as compared to their male colleagues.

About The Women/POC Speaker Initiative


In my two years as a professional public speaker, I have experienced two consistent trends that I’m trying to change: 1. There are still way more men speaking at conferences and companies as keynotes and panelists than women and people of color, and 2. Many women and POC speakers are paid far less than their male counterparts.

The Women Speaker Initiative aims to increase the number of women and people of color speaking at conferences and companies, as well as ensure that women and POC speakers have the tools necessary to get paid competitively as compared to their male colleagues.

The Women Speaker Initiative achieves this by matching aspiring speakers (specifically women and people of color) with other experienced professional speakers that have 2-3 (or more) years of experience getting paid to speak, so that these experienced professional speakers can provide advice and guidance to aspiring speakers about: 1. how to book more gigs and gain more speaking experience, 2. how to gain the confidence to ask for money, and 3. how to price your talks competitively in an industry where women/POC are consistently underpaid.

Speaker mentors are not compensated; they are simply donating their time to empower others and spread the love. Each mentor does a 60 min. group mentoring phone/video conference call every 2 months with several (3-10) participants. Whenever possible, aspiring speakers are matched with a mentor who is an expert in a related subject area. Calls are usually recorded and distributed for those who cannot make it.

Interested in participating in this program? Please sign up below!

Over 120 people have joined The Pilot Program March-May 2017, which is now full! If you sign up after 3/1/17, you will be added to the next program, which begins in June 2017. Thank you! 

Details for The Women/POC Speaker Initiative

Pilot Program: March-May 2017


You are interested in speaking more and building your speaking business.

You are a women or person of color (or anyone who believes they are currently under-represented in the speaking business and could benefit from this program; open to all). 

  • Please complete the sign-up form.
  • Whenever possible, you will be matched with a mentor in a related subject area.
  • A mentor will reach out to you via email to let you know when their next group phone call/video chat is. Remember: all mentors are donating their time/energy/wisdom for FREE, so whenever the mentor wants to do their group call/video chat, is when the call will take place! Whenever possible, the mentors will record their call/video chat, so you can listen/watch the call if you miss it.
  • The first call will take place will take place in March, 2017. The second call will take place in late May, 2017.
  • Each Mentor has agreed to host 2 60-minute conference calls, not to be pro-bono coaches for all the speakers, and I want to respect their time and commitment. If a Mentor gives you permission to email them for quick tips or advice over the next two months, that’s fine, but it's also fine if they explicitly ask you not to do so. If you are looking for a formal speaker coach or someone to work with 1-on-1 to improve your speaking business, please contact me and I’ll connect you with some of the Mentors who have availability for new coaching clients in exchange for money.
  • This is a pilot run, a Minimum Viable Product, and a learning experiment—there will be some things that don’t work and need to be improved! After the second call, I will solicit feedback from Mentors and Speakers, and make any necessary changes to the program for the next iteration, which will launch in Summer 2017. If you have friends who want to be speakers or Mentors, they can fill out the sign-up form and they will be placed into the next iteration of the Women/POC Speaker Initiative in Summer 2017.
  • Smiley: do you actually think just 2 conference calls is going to help me? Yes, I do. I don't believe 2 calls is going to give you all the tools you need to get paid to speak for living, as all of us know well, that takes years of practice and experience, but I do think all of us can benefit from learning from experts. Plus, by giving attention to this issue we can start to get more people excited about empowering more women/POC speakers and compensating them fairly. So, it's a long journey we're beginning together. Hopefully, in the coming months, I can find some funding for this initiative to increase the impact/scope of the program in the future. 
  • If you have questions or challenges, please email:


You have 2+ years of professional speaking experience and have done 20+ paid speaking engagements.

You are willing to donate your time for 2 60-min conference calls to share your wisdom.

You can be of any gender/background to be a mentor; open to all. 

  • Please complete the sign-up form.
  • You will be assigned several (3-10) aspiring speakers to mentor. Whenever possible, these aspiring speakers will be interested in the topic areas you are an expert in.
  • You get to pick a good time to do your group phone conference call or video chat in March, 2017. I recommend blocking off 60 minutes for the call, and using either Google Hangout-on-Air or Zoom, so the call is recorded for those who miss it.
  • You’ll do a second group call in late May 2017 with your aspiring speakers.
  • After the second call, I will solicit feedback from aspiring speakers and mentors, so we can make any necessary changes to the Pilot Program to ensure this Initiative works as effectively as possible.
  • If you have questions or challenges, please email:

Resources for Women Speakers


VIDEO: How to Build Your Speaking Business - DREAMERS/DOERS 



A list of women speakers in future of science/tech/work from a Facebook post I made. Please add your information!



A list of women speakers curated by the team at August. Please add your information!



A list of women entrepreneurs, business owners, authors, podcast hosts, and speakers. It is not an exhaustive list, but it is a start. If you want women to feature in your panel, this website should make it even easier to find them.


50/50 PLEDGE

Works to showcase an equal share of men's and women's voices at the top technology industry conferences. Join their private directory of professional women in tech! 



Making stages around the world more diverse and accessible, by inviting audience members to share the stage during a keynote.



Exploring innovative solutions to tech diversity and inclusion.



A list of women speakers in tech. 



A community of queer women in and around tech. 



A speaking agency representing a diverse range of new voices.  


To recommend a Resource, please contact Smiley!