The Twenty Tammy Challenge

The Twenty Tammy Challenge

Alternate title: A somewhat tongue-in-cheek – and hopefully humorous – exercise in illustrating the silliness of the claim that it’s difficult to find women tech speakers

Back story: You might want to read this Mic piece by Melanie Ehrenkranz first. Tired of the stale excuse that finding women to speak at tech conferences is hard, she put out a call on Twitter asking for names of experienced women/LGBTQ/non-cis speakers. She got a thousand names in the first twenty-four hours.

So please go read Melanie’s article. I’ll wait here.

You’re back! Great!

Here’s what I did right after reading Melanie’s piece: I decided to narrow the search radically and see how quickly I could find twenty Tammys (including Tammis, Tamis, and Tamaras who go by the nickname Tammy) in tech, who are also experienced speakers.


I don’t run into many other Tammys, so I thought it’d be interesting – and yes, kind of funny. My main goal was to shine a bit more light on the absurdity of the claim that it’s hard to find women speakers. If I can find twenty women who share my name, just imagine how many women I could track down if I broadened my search to include, say, all women’s names?

I went into this research thinking it would be challenging but ultimately do-able. It ended up being waaaaay easier than I thought it would be. All it took was half an hour with Google.

I found a diverse group of Tammys. They represent a great swath of roles – including developers, educators, managers, VPs, CEOs, and CIOs – at everything from startups to global enterprises. (Fun fact: If you want, your next tech event could have an all-Tammy panel of startup founders!) I’ve read all their bios and confirmed that yes, all of these Tammys have solid speaking cred.

And now, let’s peruse the list and revel in the collective Tammy awesomeness…

  1. Tammy Alairys – Principal, IT Advisory Services, Ernst & Young LLP
  2. Tamara Barr – CIO, Continental Mills
  3. Tammy Brecht Dunbar – Microsoft innovative educator expert, master trainer, certified educator, regional lead; ambassador
  4. Tammy Bütow – Site reliability engineering manager, Dropbox
  5. Tammy Camp – Startup investor and growth partner, 500Startups; founder, Palytte
  6. Tami Erwin – Executive VP, Wireless Operations, Verizon
  7. Tammy Hawkins – VP, Software Development, MasterCard
  8. Tammy A. Hepps – Founder,
  9. Tami Howie – CEO, Maryland Technology Council
  10. Tammy Johns – CEO/co-founder,; CEO/founder, Strategy & Talent
  11. Tammy Lind – Technology integration coach; Google education trainer; Google certified teacher; Intel for Education master teacher
  12. Tammy Meyers – Co-founder and COO, QuestUpon
  13. Tammy Moskites – CISO and CIO, Venafi
  14. Tammy Olson – Global virtual learning leader, Cargill
  15. Tammy Perrin – Lead software engineer/software engineering manager, Attunity
  16. Tami Reiss – Product lead, ‎Justworks; founder, Just Not Sorry
  17. Tammy Schuring – VP, Worldwide Sales, HPE Security
  18. Tammy Han – Founder, First Round Capital
  19. Tammy Uyeda – Creator, FitSpark
  20. Tammy Worcester Tang – Instructional technology specialist, ESSDACK

Reminder: All it took was half an hour to find this incredibly talented group of women. The argument that it’s hard to find women speakers is palpably absurd.

Yes, I’m aware that mine is just a general list of women with vastly different areas of expertise. But it serves to illustrate that women with vastly different areas of expertise do exist and they’re not hiding. If you’re not finding women with the expertise you need for your event, you’re not trying hard enough. As someone who has served on several program committees and is now co-chairing O’Reilly Fluent, I get that finding speakers who are available and willing isn’t always a cinch. I feel your pain. But diversity is do-able. It really is.

As fun as it was to compile this list, I don’t think that list-making is the answer to the problem of diversity in tech. As Melanie pointed out:

“Lists aren’t the solution. Action is. It’s important to understand that a list isn’t a solution to sexism in tech. As Jeena Cho wrote for Above the Law in April, asking for suggestions of women speakers for a future event just shifts responsibility.”

But I do like to be part of the solution and all, so here are some helpful links:

No more excuses, okay?