The gender split in #MRX conferences: 2016 edition


Rating conferences on gender ratios is not easy. Though we may want every conference to be 50/50 male/female, it doesn’t always make sense.

  • Not all industries are balanced on gender. For instance, qualitative researchers are much more likely to be female than male, and some regions in the world have very different employment rates for women and men.
  • Men and women don’t necessarily submit at the same ratio. For instance, maybe 70% of the submissions were male and thus it makes sense that 70% of the speakers were male.
  • Men and women don’t necessarily agree to speak at the same rate. A conference may offer equal numbers of acceptances to men and women but then it’s up to men and women to actually accept those offers. Conferences with 10 speakers can instantly drop from 50% female to 44% female if just one women declines the invitation.
  • Normal variation means that sometimes a conference will have more men or more women. That’s just how numbers work and you can’t fault an organization because one time, one of their conferences wasn’t perfectly equal. But when ‘random’ variation across every conference is consistently in the same direction, you’ve got to wonder what’s happening behind the scenes.

Regardless, the best way to be aware of whether there may be gender issues is to actively measure reality. My methods aren’t perfect. I can’t always tell the gender of a speaker from their name and so I manually check names in LinkedIn and other times I leave that speaker out of the equation. I never know the submission rate by gender and so I can’t defend a conference that has few female speakers even if they had zero submissions from women. If you can correct my numbers, then I absolutely welcome your help. And, if you’ve been to a conference that I haven’t attended, do let me know the numbers and I’ll add them here.

gender chart

TOTAL (Excluding AAPOR/WAPOR): 1845 men, 1096 women: 37% female

The Grades

A: Ratios between 47% and 50% – Huge round of applause for any conference that lands here!

  • TTRA June (Colorado): 194 speakers, 78 men, 89 women (cannot identify gender of many names) = 53% female
  • TMRE October (Florida): 126 speakers, 65 women, 61 men = 52% female
  • TMRE Consumer Insights May (California): 12 men, 12 women, 50% female
  • IIR Insight Tech: 22 speakers, 11 men, 11 women: 50% female
  • AAPOR/WAPOR June (Austin): 1463 speakers, 718 men, 745 women = 49% Male (Yes, you read that correctly. 745 female speakers.)
  • Quirk’s Event February (USA): 126 speakers, 64 women, 62 men = 49% Male  
  • LIMRA June (Florida): 39 speakers, 19 women, 20 men = 49% Female
  • NewMR February  (Global online): 27 Speakers, 14 women, 13 men = 48% Male
  • MRIA June (Canada): 63 speakers, 33 men, 30 women = 48% Female
  • EphMRA June (Frankfurt): 45 speakers, 24 men, 21 women = 47% female
  • AIMRI Under30 February (New York): 9 speakers, 5 men, 4 women = 44% Female. Although this percentage doesn’t strictly belong here, with 9 speakers it can’t get any more equal. 

B: Ratios from 42% and 46%

  • MRS Health February (London): 26 speakers, 12 men, 14 women = 46% male
  • PMRG May (USA): 37 speakers, 17 women, 20 men = 46% female
  • IIR New Face: 22 speakers, 12 women, 10 men = 45% male
  • Qual360 February (Berlin): 32 speakers, 14 women, 18 men = 44% female
  • Media Insights February (Florida): 56 speakers, 24 women, 32 men = 43% female
  • IIeX Health April (Philadelphia): 40 speakers, 17 women, 23 men = 43% female
  • NEMRA May (Massachusetts): 14 speakers, 6 men, 8 women = 43% male
  • ARF Audience Measurement: 58 speakers, 25 women, 33 men = 43% female
  • NEMRA May (New England): 14 speakers, 6 men, 8 women = 43% male
  • WCQR March : 43 speakers, 18 men, 25 women = 42% male. One of the conference organizers ran the numbers and determined that the ratio of submissions from men and women was the same as for speakers. You can read details about their speaker selection process here
  • MRA ISC May  (New Orleans): 43 speakers, 18 women, 25 men = 42% female
  • CASRO CRC, October: 72 speakers, 42 men, 30 women: 42% female

C: Ratios from 37% and 41%

  • MAGHREB SUMMIT January (Casablanca): 17 speakers, 10 men, 7 women = 41% female
  • MRS Travel March (London): 22 speakers, 13 women, 9 men = 41% male
  • ESOMAR LATAM April (Bogota): 32 speakers, 13 women, 19 men = 41% female
  • ESOMAR APAC May (Tokyo): 51 speakers, 20 women, 31 men = 39% female
  • Omnishopper July (Chicago): 67 speakers, 41 men, 26 women: 39% female
  • AMSRS September (Melbourne): 61 speakers, 37 men, 24 women: 39% female
  • BHBIA May (London): 39 speakers, 24 men, 15 women: 38% female

D: Ratios from 32% and 36%

  • MRS National March (London): 94 speakers, 34 women, 60 men = 36% female
  • MENAP Forum March (Dubai): 25 speakers, 9 women, 16 men = 36% female
  • ESOMAR congress September (New Orleans): 72 speakers, 26 women, 46 men = 36% female
  • CASRO Tech (New York): 11 speakers, 7 men, 4 women: 36% female 
  • PMRC Europe October (Berlin): 25 speakers, 16 men, 9 women: 36% female
  • Shopper Brain, June (Chicago): 23 speakers, 15 men, 8 women: 35% female
  • OmniShopper International, November (London): 31 speakers, 20 men, 11 women: 35% female
  • CXfusion April (Las Vegas): 53 speakers, 18 women, 35 men = 34% female
  • ARF ReThink: 141 speakers, 48 women, 93 men = 34% female
  • Febelmar Februrary (Brussels): 21 speakers, 14 men, 7 women = 33% female
  • MRA CEO January  (Florida): 12 speakers, 4 women, 8 men = 33% female
  • Sentiment Analysis Symposium July (New York): 15 speakers, 5 women, 10 men = 33% female
  • Shopper Brain Amsterdam (June): 21 speakers, 14 men, 7 women: 33% female
  • IIeX NA June (Atlanta): 194 speakers, 63 women, 131 men: 32% female

F: Ratios <32%

  • MRS Kids January (UK): 29 speakers, 20 women, 9 men = 31% male 
  • MRSI February (India): 35 speakers, 24 men, 11 women = 31% female 
  • IIeX Europe March (Amsterdam): 115 speakers, 36 women, 79 men = 31% female
  • IIR Analytics: 42 speakers, 13 women, 29 men = 31% female
  • ARF ReThink March: 140 speakers, 96 men, 44 women = 31% female
  • MRMW Europe: 54 speakers, 37 men, 17 women: 31% female
  • IIeX Latam: 68 speakers, 47 men, 21 women: 31% female
  • MRweek: 32 speakers, 22 men, 10 women: 31% female
  • MRIA QRC January (Toronto): 15 speakers, 11 women, 4 men = 27% male 
  • CASRO Digital March (Texas): 46 speakers, 14 women, 32 men = 30% female
  • CX Fusion: 53 speakers, 35 men, 16 women: 30% female
  • BVM Kongress April (Berlin): 28 speakers, 8 women, 20 men = 29% female
  • Market Research Exchange, Florida (May): 41 speakers, 29 men, 12 women = 29% female
  • AMA Analytics February (Arizona): 18 speakers, 5 women, 13 men = 28% female
  • NMWF April (Dubai): 36 speakers, 9 women, 27 men: 25% female
  • Insight Show MW May (London): 123 speakers, 30 women, 93 men: 24% female
  • CX week May: 25 speakers, 6 women, 19 men = 24% female
  • MRMW APAC March (Malaysia): 39 speakers, 8 women, 31 men = 21% female
  • ESOMAR Big Data: 27 speakers, 22 men, 5 women: 16% female
  • Text Analytics Event April (Chicago): 19 speakers, 3 women, 16 men = 16% female
  • SampleCon January (USA): 40 speakers, 6 women, 34 men = 15% female
  • Predictive Analytics World April: 28 speakers, 4 women, 24 men = 14% female

Upcoming ratings: ESOMAR congress September, AMSRS congress September. (Please let me know of others.)

What can YOU do?

  • Submit! You can’t complain if you don’t join the cause. Take the plunge and submit your first proposal ever this year! Make it easier for conference organizers to find you by taking the first step yourself.
  • Encourage! Look to your left and look to your right. Have your neighbors submitted to a conference yet? Well, maybe right now is the perfect time to encourage them to just do it!
  • Demand diversity! When you notice that conference speakers reflect a very narrow group of people, point it out and ask for more. Organizers want to give you want you want. But first, you need to tell them what you want. And, still, sometimes organizers don’t realize what is happening.
  • Recommend! Remember that awesome speaker you saw at the last company meeting? At the last chapter event? Email your favourite organization and let them know you found a speaker for them.  Organizers can’t ask them to speak if they don’t know who to ask.

What can conferences do?

  • Look at submissions from a new point of view. Realize that people from different walks of life write differently and that some proposal styles may have greater appeal to you. Notice how much the writing style is affecting your choice of content and remove your style preferences from the equation. Recognize that some equally high quality proposals brag and exaggerate, while others are factual and modest.
  • Ask sponsors to promote diversity. As conference organizers, only you know when the collection of speakers has veered away from a diverse group. Take a proactive approach and let sponsors know you care about representing the entire community. Ask sponsors to send great speakers who don’t fit into traditional boxes – really old, really young, differently abled, non-white, women.
  • Ask for recommendations. Not just of the most popular speakers who know other popular speakers. Ask your fringe speakers about other awesome fringe speakers.
  • Go to Twitter. There are tons of lists of women speakers and experts. My Lovestats account has several lists you can use.  WIRe has a list a women speakers.  Just ask.
  • Share your numbers. When it turns out that one of your conferences seems skewed, let people know that the submissions were also skewed. It’s not necessarily a bad thing if 30% of your speakers were female if only 30% of your submissions came from women.
  • Be the change we want to see. Even if your speaker ratio matches the submission ratio, if it’s not mostly equal, do something about it! Don’t wait for submissions. Hunt for awesome speakers who didn’t submit.

 

Demand that your conferences be Diversity Approved! (Tweet this post!)

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3 responses

  1. […] The Gender Split in #MRX Conferences: 2016 Edition – Annie Pettit grades research conferences on the proportion of female presenters and panel members. Not one has a majority of women, which means that all have a majority of men. (Reminds me of my favorite Ruth Bader Ginsburg quote: “I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court]? And I say when there are nine, people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”) Thanks to Annie for raising the question! […]

  2. I disagree it’s not a bad thing if 30% of your speakers are female if 30% of your submissions are female. You should ask why it’s only 30%. As for myself, I’m so busy these days I almost never submit a paper unless I’m specifically asked or invited – and I know plenty of others, men and women, in the same boat.

    1. I hear you. That’s why it would be awesome if every conference was transparent about their speaker methods. When we know the submission ratio, the speaker ratio, and the population ratio, then we can figure out if there is a problem, where it lies, and solutions to fix it. As it stands, the most an outsider can do right now is to simply report the facts, jack. On that note, I’d love to include numbers from any conferences you might attend this year. Just shoot them my way.

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