Women in the Domain Name Industry

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GoDaddy is making a very generous contribution to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as a part of my Pan-Mass Challenge fundraising campaign in exchange for the publication of this article.

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?

Takeaways

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.

28 COMMENTS

  1. What a great article Paul! Thanks for the shout out!! I too am proud to have my name included with an industry of strong, talented kick a$$ women! 😉

  2. Congrats !

    Nadia is a very smart lady and should be on list too. Networking. Attended some conferences. Had a few large sales and an honest person.

  3. Great write-up! I’ve been fortunate to meet several of these women, and to call a few of them friends. To say that they are inspiring and are leaders in the industry, is a massive understatement! There are countless account executives, brokers, marketing execs, and domain investors working behind the scenes who are killing it everyday. Kudos, ladies, and keep it up!

  4. Two others to add to that list, Jen Sale and Kellie Peterson. I’ve had the pleasure of working with both women and hold them in very high regard as two of the most knowledgeable and experienced in the domain industry.

  5. It was great meeting you at NamesCon, Paul.

    Other women domainers worthy of mention: Tia Wood, Nadia Pessoa, and of course Bina Bitterman. 😀

  6. Paul, your post has inspired some great names and reminders. Totally understand that you couldn’t name thm all so we are, apparently 🙂 The list isn’t complete without Marcia Lynn Walker or Michelle Miller, along with myself, who were part of an article on DNJournal about this very topic..oh so many years ago! Jodi Chamberlain surely has earned her spot too!

  7. Nominating the unstoppable Michele Van Tilborg of .CLUB. An inspirational domain sector leader who is generating exceptional results from her years of experience and keen business mind.

  8. Paul –

    It’s a good start to a conversation that is always tough. In part I think that your admission that you forgot “someone” is telling. There’s no way that you (or anyone else) could have an exhaustive list of the women kicking ass and taking names in the industry just like you couldn’t have the same for the men in the industry, but there are so many women in this industry that just put their heads down and do amazing work, day in and day out, without ever getting acknowledged and generally without seeking any spotlight. Maybe a more pointed question is why don’t women get more of the limelight?

    What I find more troubling is the number of women who make their mark and then leave the industry. It’s a wonderful industry filled with amazing opportunities but it can be exhausting to deal with the BS that comes with making inroads in a male dominated space. I know more than a handful of women that have either recently decided to step away or are considering it – as I was earlier this year before two other amazing women in the domain world convinced me to stay and lured me to Neustar. Big, big thanks to Judy Song and Crystal Peterson who are just two of the unbelievably talented women on the registry team at Neustar.

    Much like you, I could never remember everyone, but this is just a small sampling of women who have helped to power this industry who haven’t already been mentioned as of my starting to write this comment:

    Lauren Price
    Kelly Hardy
    Christie Kelly
    Jennifer Standiford
    Carissa Pompei
    Michele Van Tilborg
    Roli Points
    Kathy Nielsen
    Susan Lawrence
    Barbara Sher
    Darcy Southwell
    Samantha Frida
    Kimberly Koskenmaki
    Mariah Reilly
    Leona Chen
    Susan Prosser
    Jennie Marie Larsen
    Krista Papac
    Natasa Djukanovic
    Michelle Romano
    Christina Beavis
    Jana Dybinski
    Jacqueline Daly
    Robyn Norgan
    Jessican Besseling
    Neha Naik
    Priyanka Damwani
    Annalisa Roger
    Lisa Allen
    Mar Perez
    Amanda Fessenden
    Heather Pierre
    Kelly Campbell
    Stephanie Duchesneau

    That doesn’t count the metric ton of women who rarely get out to events so their names are rarely ever heard of

    We’re out there. We’re just makin’ sure shit gets done.

    • Great post, Kellie!

      I think the tech space has a long way to go in terms of leveling the playing field, as evidenced by this week’s #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign.

      Thank you for the list of (some of) the women doing great things that might have otherwise been overlooked.

  9. I think there are both men and women who never get mentioned that deserve to be mentioned far more than myself. So many hard working, admirable people in this industry.

    As far as women in the domain industry, it’s really an overall problem in the tech industry all around that’s discussed quite often in developer communities. I could go into a dozen theories why but I really have no idea.

    However, I no longer get the *gasp you’re a girl?!* reaction from other developers lol so I think we’re growing.

    Kellie Peterson: absolutely spot on. Standing ovation.

  10. The reason why women are not in the IT is because they don’t want to be labeled as an Idiot Tech like the men.

    IT is a cold cold inhuman career, you work alone and very egoistical and lacks human communications.

    IT work is emotionless and there is no personal relationship with some damn stupid machines.

    I rather work in the health care where you are making an impact on someone ….more human benefits helping someone.

    After work, do you rather tell your kids, hey I save someone live or I save a damn stupid PC?

  11. NamesCon is a proud supporter of Women In Domaining and each year the event has grown bigger. Have we made mistakes at NamesCon? Yes. But we are fervently correcting the entrenched male bias and hope that we are encouraging women in the industry to be seen and treated as equals. I dare say that this coming year will see women on a majority of the panels (if not on all of the panels).

    To Kellie’s point— let’s get more limelight on the many well deserving women in the industry. We are inundated with speaker and panelist requests from men. Women, you are more than welcome to the limelight at NamesCon, you are encouraged and sought. Please reach out to myself or to Terri at anytime.

  12. Great article – great comments! I look forward to catching up with these amazing women (and others) at WID during Namescon.

  13. Thanks for the mention Kelly. Many of us greatly helping to drive the business in the industry are behind the scenes and are often not recognized.

  14. Thanks for addressing this very important topic and encouraging more women to become a part of the tech and domain space. It’s wonderful to know there are so many talented women making a difference in the industry.  As domain investors ourselves (from the early days) we have seen so much change, progress and growth in the space.
    We salute all the women in the domain industry, and the companies recruiting, hiring, mentoring and encouraging women in tech! We at CareerWomen.com share your vision.

  15. Our team at Escrow.com is predominately women and we are fortunate to have such a great group. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Mauli Fry who runs our domain practice and joined us earlier in the year after 8 successful years with Thought Convergence.

  16. There are many more great women to mention. The majority of the fabulous .ME crew, Nadya Frost at GoDaddy Europe, Karen Bernstein, Negar Hajikhani, … you only need to pause and start noticing them. Then give all the respect.

  17. Here is another one I haven’t seen mentioned: Tracy Fogarty. I see her name in the news nearly every week with a Great sale.

  18. I think one of the most telling things is when they do have the women’s networking events at the conferences how many more women there are! I remember when I first started in the industry I was often mistaken for someone’s plus one. Always a frustrating experience. I think things have improved over the years, but we still have a long way to go. Lots of talent to say the least!

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