Do you ever think about what reflects our society and the world we live in?
I do that pretty often and one thing that I notice more and more is that women are not that well represented in panels and as speakers in conferences. Often I am the only woman. This is nothing new, but as a speaker now myself, I see it from a new perspective.
Why is this a problem and why should we be annoyed?
It’s an issue because it does not represent the real world, and it often shows that the event organisers haven’t done any research outside their primary networks.
You can ask any networking expert and they will tell you that you should strive to connect with people beyond your existing network. It’s outside your little circle that you will find amazing contacts, speakers and experts.
In Sweden and Norway there is currently a campaign going on called Tacka Nej. It’s about men saying no thank you to participate in ‘only male’ panels, conferences and experts forums. It was mentioned on Twitter by Melina Gates in one of her most shared tweets ever.
Do we really want to go to seminars and conferences that have only men on their panels? Is that what organisers believe? Do they have to choose only speakers who have the competences that men more often have?
I was at a very techie event in London about online security last week #DontSpyOnUs. The emcees and the speakers were a mix of women, men, old young, corporate and academics. Even in a very male dominated industry you can find the right kind of speaker, if you put in some effort.
For me this is about human rights and equal value. So we have to lead together, men, women, young and old.
Next time you are organising an event, don’t be lazy. Contact the pontential female speakers first. Just a tips.
And if anyone is feeling annoyed, angry or concerned regarding diversity and inequality, please treat their thoughts and ideas respectful.
The Big Question
A collection of articles about this issue
1) Scandinavian Men Say No, Thanks to All-Male Panels (the Swedish campaign website)
The idea is that men, when they are invited to speak at a conference or participate in a debate panel, will ask whether women are represented on the programme. If not, they will turn the invitation down and say no, thanks.
2) Putting an End to Conferences Dominated by White Men (Harvard Business Review)
3) Ending all-male panels is not tokenism (The Statesmen)
5) Four steps to put an end to all-male panels at conferences (The Guardian)