Why. Tell me why.
I know it’s not because the speaker organizers didn’t try. I know it’s not because there aren’t qualified female speakers. So what it leaves is this.
- Women think they aren’t qualified (Sorry, there are plenty of qualified women)
- Women think they have nothing new to talk about (Sorry, women have plenty to talk about)
- Women are too busy (Sorry, you’re no busier than anyone else)
- Women are terrible speakers (Sorry, you’re no worse than anyone else)
- Women aren’t submitting speaker proposals —- Well?
- Women are turning down speaker requests —- Well?
So ladies, the next time a request for proposals comes around, submit a proposal! Think about that awesome project you just worked on and turn it into a presentation. Ask a great speaker to mentor you so you feel more comfortable as a speaker yourself. Make the time to do it. It’s good for you and your career. Diversity comes in all forms and you are one of them.
Submit. Speak. Make me proud. 🙂
And now it’s time to check on the gender ratio of presentations at ESOMAR, a little task I try to do at every conference I attend. Since I am not an expert in first names around the world, I’ve only inferred gender from names where I am fairly confident that it represents a man or a women.
For all the speaker/author names listed in the ESOMAR programme, 42 were for women and 60 were for men. Thus, out of 102 names I could infer gender from, 41% were for women. That is definitely a bias towards male presenters, certainly not as bad as it has been in decades past, but a bias nonetheless.
The usual suspects include:
- Ladies, did you submit a proposal? If not, WHY NOT? Your ideas are as just as good as anyone else’s. If you don’t submit, you will not be chosen. Get in the game and make your voice heard!
- Ladies, did you make your proposal sound as confident as possible? Other presenters are certain that their idea is the most astonishingly new and innovative idea out there. Even if you think your idea is old and boring, you need to present it with as much confidence as you possibly can. THAT’s how your proposal will be chosen.
- And of course, maybe the conference committee was biased towards proposals from men? Very likely not, but it’s always possible. Reasons we don’t like are still reasons to think about.
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I always like to evaluate the speaker gender ratio at conferences. This is my first time at a World Association of Public Opinion Researchers, and so a quick check is definitely in order.
I’ve got the conference guide in front of me and I’ve coded the first names of all the first speakers for each paper. Given the much higher rate of attendance by non-English speakers, my ability to infer gender is greatly reduced. Since there are many names I am unable to code, my numbers may not generalize well. Here goes.
Of the 108 first names I could infer from, 47 were female names and 61 were male names. If you can’t divide 47 by 108, that’s 44%. In my books, that’s a slight bias towards male speakers.
At least one of these is the cause:
1) fewer women than men submit papers
2) women don’t brag enough in their submissions and so they aren’t chosen
3) women’s submissions are less likely to be chosen due to sexism of the judging panel, whether conscious or unconscious. (Everyone is sexist is one way or the other, be honest with yourself.)
If I had to guess, I’d say #1 is 50% of the problem, #2 is 45% of the problem, and #3 is 5% of the problem.
Most market research conferences suffer from the same problem – old white guy syndrome. It’s hard to say whether women are less likely to be accepted as presenters or less likely to offer to be presenters. Either way, men are often much more likely to be presenters.
With such a large program, I just had to check whether #AAPOR suffered from this problem as well. My methodology is not perfect. I am unfamiliar with gender associations of non-Canadian names and so ignored all names that I didn’t recognize. I also ignored all names that could be male or female like Chris.
I ended up with 320 names that I was 99% confident with.
148 were women and 172 were men.
That’s 46.2% and 53.8%.
And you know what? That’s pretty damn awesome! Whatever you’re doing #AAPOR, keep it up!
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