One of the great things about blogging, web 2.0 communication, and digital collaboration tools more generally is the way they can potentially erase many of the things we might look at or consider first when we are talking with someone face to face. As human beings, we generally notice what someone looks like and how they sound before we start listening to their ideas in a face-to-face conversation. That is part of Malcom Gladwell’s thesis in his book, “Blink,” from what I understand. (Full disclosure, I have not read the entire book yet.)

This is not the case in the blogosphere. I delight in the fact that digital communication spaces can be much more egalitarian than the face-to-face world is or ever can be. Here, we can focus on ideas, and generally avoid distractions like appearance or gender. (I do understand that “gender matters” in some discussions, but I do not want to get sidetracked on that topic in this post.)

I exchanged emails recently with someone who perceived a lack of available female presenters to speak at educational technology and learning conferences. In fact, the person with whom I corresponded felt there was only ONE female with the credentials and speaking ability to present at a particular conference. I do not want to single out either this individual or the person who they regarded as the lone, credible female advocate for digital learning, but I do want to share a short list of people I personally know who are outstanding advocates for digital learning and appropriate educational technology integration, who just happen to be female. In sharing a list like this, I KNOW I am going to leave some people out, and for that I apologize in advance. Remember, this is NOT a complete list of all the female bloggers I follow or outstanding female educators I’ve ever heard about, but rather a list of people I have personally met face-to-face (and in many cases consider myself to be good friends with) who are OUTSTANDING presenters and educators. In my view, the fact that someone is female or male is a fact of biology, but not a criterion I consciously consider when thinking about them or their ideas. I’m sharing this list here, however, because if one person perceives a lack of credible female presenters on digital learning topics, most likely others do too. That is an inaccurate and unfortunate perception, and needs to be remedied. Here is my short list, in alphabetical order by first name:

Alice Barr

Anna Adam

Bonnie Bracey Sutton

Carol Anne McGuire

Cheri Toledo

Cindy Lane

Cheryl Oakes

Elaine Wrenn

Elizabeth Helfant

Helen Mowers

Helen Soulé
NCCE 2008 Keynote Bio

Jennifer Wagner

Karen Montgomery

Kim Cofino

Lucy Gray

Maria Henderson

Meg Ormiston

Monica Beglau
New Horizons Article

Patsy Lanclos

Rae Niles

Sharon Peters

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

Sylvia Martinez

Tonya Witherspoon

Vicki Allen

Vicki Davis

Of course, there are many, many more learning and educational technology leaders who just happen to be female, who are not included on this list but could be. Again, I am limiting this list to people I have actually met. (In Elizabeth Helfant’s case, I’m counting a series of videoconferences last summer as “face-to-face” meetings.)

I don’t like it when “gender matters” in circumstances when it should not.

Let no one say, “We just can’t find any female presenters to invite to our educational technology or educational leadership conference this year.”

If I know you personally and have left you off this list, and you should be on it, I apologize in advance. I wrestled with whether to attempt “a list” like this at all, and finally decided this was a good idea, because the perception I am wanting to address via this post is an important one and needs to be highlighted.

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30 Responses to Some learning and educational technology leaders who just happen to be female (and I know personally)

  1. Lee Kolbert says:

    How could it be that I was left off this list? Perhaps I was having a bad hair day?

  2. Pat says:

    Great post! Thanks for the links to some great sites. Another problem I have is that some people think I look to young to have enough experience to have an educated opinion. Or I feel the pressure that because all Asians are supposed to be super smart, I’m supposed to know everything! Maybe that is why I like digital collaboration and communication so much. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said it kept people focusing on ideas instead of distractions.

  3. Teryl Magee says:

    Kudos, Wes! Thanks for sticking up for us “gals” in the ed tech community. There are many of us out there that put forth a great deal of time and effort to ensure that our students, whether they be other teachers or our “kids”, are exposed to some wonderful tech. in the educational realm!

    Teryl, TN DEN LC

  4. Meg Ormiston says:

    Happy Monday,
    I am somebody, I made the list! Thanks Wes, you have the honor of being the first person who every podcasted my session. Thanks for showcasing the many advocates of digital learning! Male or female we need to get the message out!
    meg ormiston

  5. Thanks, Wes, for the inclusion in THE LIST. There are truly many, many people who have a passion and a message. And, we are all trying to work together to deliver it!

  6. I was just talking with a women’s studies faculty member here at VCU this morning about how gender-neutral the blogosphere and twitterverse is. Women are increasingly taking leadership roles in redefining teaching and learning for the flat world, and your post reinforces that. Men such as myself have certainly valued the connections and learned much from many of the women in your list … and now I can add new contacts to my list thanks to your list! Nice post!

  7. Helen Mowers says:

    Thanks for the nod, Wes. I’m extremely honored to be in such fantastic company. And I agree with previous comments–gender doesn’t matter–it’s about how you use your voice to spread the message and advocate for valuing student voice and providing them a way to be heard.

  8. Cheri Toledo says:

    It must be a short person thing – but notice I’m the one with the halo!

    See you in San Antonio.

  9. Wesley Fryer says:

    Indeed, how could I leave a brilliant professor I’ve posted for NECC photographs with (along with Terry Freedman)off this list?! I have taken care of that oversight. Also I should have included Elaine Wrenn on this list initially– and I have included Elaine as well. I knew I would overlook some folks. Thanks for the photographic reminder! 🙂

  10. Thanks for this list, Wes!

    It’s too bad that it’s necessary, but honestly, it is. It’s not a level playing field, not yet anyway. Hope the work that all of us do, men and women both, evens that out.

  11. Cathy Nelson says:

    Fantastic LIST!! I can say Ive met some face to face (NECC, EdubloggerCon, Educon2.0) and many are on my list to meet eventually. I guess i could say Ive met some f2f using Skype….

    Great list Wes. Now here’s a list of women to read in the blogosphere: (just in case links are banned in your comments.)

  12. This is an important topic and, Wesley, I think it is very brave of you to address it. First of all, and really most importantly, I want to point out that of ALL the domains in my life, I have found the eduonlinesphere to be the area where I have found the most acceptance and welcome as an educator who happens to be an educator.

    I have voiced this concern that we need more women voices who are articulate with my peers on many occasions. We have questioned where they are and why we do not hear them as much. I had this conversation today with a colleague who has a PhD in education. I have had it with a number of my peers. You are certainly correct in pointing us to a number of very articulate women who are using their voice. However, we are still the minority.

    I do recognize the fact that, speaking from demographics, who we are hearing align very much with the stats on IT demographics (white males being the largest group). We not only need to hear from women, but also the other marginalized groups in our societies: those of colour, those of native status, those of other minority groups. I take heart that these statistics are changing.

    Those that are active in the eduonlinesphere usually represent openness and equality for all in education. Let’s keep working at that goal – together!

  13. Cindy Seibel says:

    As someone new to edublogging, I have found the eduonlinesphere to be very open and gender-agnostic. This was particularly noticeable for me, as my career path to get me here was the IT world, where I have often been the only female. I must say that in educational technology it feels like a plethora of women. Having said that, as I peruse the conference programs I do continue to see the keynotes predominated by men.

    So thank you for publishing the list!

  14. Frank's Blog says:

    Now, can someone list how many female (or gay or black or Buddhist) Presidents the USA has had? Of course along with gender, we must remember that all differences count; including age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, physical attributes and abilities, etc. Studies have long shown that diverse work teams are more productive, responsive and creative.

    And as being educators, we need to keep a watchful eye on children, the most underrepresented and disenfranchised group of all. To level the many playing fields out, we need to address sexism, ageism, adultism, heterosexism, racism, etc. in tandem, not separately nor sequentially. There is no order. It’s all connected! Who have you invited to your dinner table lately?

  15. Lucy Gray says:

    Hi Wes –

    Thanks for including me in this list, and I’ll keep working hard to live up to your perception of my work!

    I’d also like to add that higher ed is another venue for finding interesting speakers on topics related to educational technology. There are many people, both male and female, worth listening to in higher academia. From my perspective, I’d like to see more conversations going on between practitioners and academics. I’m particularly thinking about the work of my colleague, Nichole Pinkard, as an example of where these two worlds can meet in order to benefit kids. Check out her work here:

  16. Wesley Fryer says:

    Lucy: I feel a bit sheepish to be regarded as one who should be impressed or swayed in terms of my perception of your work… I don’t think I really deserve such a position of judgement and evaluation. I just feel blessed to have had so many opportunities to meet and work with so many great educators to date. If I can help amplify the voices of others even in a small way then I think that action is far more important than sharing my own opinions and ideas. I’ve seen a few messages lately about your continuing work in The Global Education Collaborative and I need to read more. Isn’t it amazing we can reach out so far and wide to other teachers around the world today? I’m still blown away by all of this.

    Please don’t think you have to impress me… I’m the one who is honored to be influenced by the great ideas and work of so many excellent mentors like yourself!

  17. Kim Cofino says:

    Hi Wes,

    Thank you so much – not only for including me in this list of articulate and inspirational educators – but also for pointing out, so eloquently, something which has been pestering me for some time.

    There’s a conference I’m very excited to attend, but I have to admit, I was disappointed to see only one female keynote speaker among the seven keynoters in total – especially when I know from daily interactions with many of the women on your list (and more) that there are plenty of outstanding female educators to choose from. I wish I was seeing more of them presented as leaders in face to face venues…

  18. Wesley Fryer says:

    You are most welcome Kim. It was great to get to meet you and visit a little in Shanghai last fall, so I could include you on this list! Maybe I’ll make it to Bangkok to visit you there someday– are you going to NECC this year? I think one of the clearest ways to address this issue is to talk about it. I know some people shy away from discussions about gender issues, and I am certainly not going to pretend to be an expert in that field, but I do know this is an issue and is something we need to talk more about. I hope more folks organizing and running learning conferences (including edtech conferences) will see this list and invite many of the great folks here to keynote!

  19. […] 8, 2008 · No Comments What an honor to be named with such an amazing group of women, thank […]

  20. Helen says:

    Just wanted to echo Cathy’s link. I was trying to find the list Janet had published and was glad to see that Cathy posted it. I’ve discovered many new online friends and people to learn from via Janet’s list.

  21. Cheryl Oakes says:

    What a surprise! Thanks to all the women in this list and commenting in this post.Keep the conversations going and we all benefit. Each time I read, listen and participate in a conversation I am learning so much. Thank Wes for promoting balanced conversations. Cheryl

  22. Alice Barr says:

    Thank Wes! I am humbled to be in such great company! I am continaully amazed by what I get to learn every day! Thanks to all of you who keep these conversations going.

  23. It is high time that society stops looking at gender and think about the best person for the job.

    Besides, it is not surprising to me that there are so many female education technology leaders.

    Women for decades have been educating their children from within the home – often whilst fathers are absent or gone out to work

  24. Vicki Davis says:

    Thank you, Wes for not only including me, but more importantly pointing out that there are plenty of qualified female presenters… some just have more name recognition than others. You have put some amazing people here AND some I’ve never met but will now! Thank you for this important post — I’m sending it on over to my blog!

  25. Tracy Weeks says:

    Wesley, I do not know you but now I would really like to. Hope to meet you soon. Here is my blog (from another female edublogger)

  26. Chad L. says:

    Thanks Wes, just what I need- more women in my life! I do read and follow some of the ladies on your list and I am very happy that I do.

    I do find it interesting when looking at pics on blogs or Twitter of the people. Some use regular pictures, some use a graphic, some just show a body part, like an eye – obviously there’s a reason-is it to avoid exactly what you are talking about? This does make a person disregard appearance and focus more on the content of what they are saying.

    I wonder if students who take online classes or are in virtual schools experience the same thing?

  27. CIndy Lane says:

    I am humbled to be included on this fabulous list….wow…and I’ll never forget the first time I met you face to face when you asked if you could stream my Google Earth Presentation at the METC Conference …I felt so h o n o r e d…just like this moment.
    You’ve made my day Wes! Hope to have more face to face time with you and all of these awesome women of the web!
    Cindy Lane

  28. Wesley Fryer says:

    Tracy: I’ve added your blog to my Google Reader subscriptions, thanks for sharing the link and for virtually introducing myself. Sounds like your teachers are off and running with digital storytelling, and that is great! I shared some links on your latest PhotoStory post.

    Chad: I’m not sure about the question about students enrolled in virtual schools and their perceptions of gender. That is a great question and certainly one worth exploring.

    Cindy: YOU are awesome! I am glad we’ve been able to become acquainted via Karen Montgomery telling me about you and METC! 🙂

  29. Karen Montgomery says:

    This is not the type of list I usually make and I am honored to be included in such great company. I always feel as if I am not keeping up with what is happening in education, Web 2.0, twitter, and I guess I better start posting to my blog.

  30. Hi Wes, I think you are very brave with this blog post…and I admire you and thank you for it.
    I realise I already know about half of the wonderful women on the list, some of them I call good friends, so feel excited to now have the opportunity to explore further blogs and resources from women who are out there doing it.

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