Ireland’s Largest Digital Marketing Conference
Is happening on the 11th of March 2015 in Dublin, Ireland and is “coming back bigger and better for 2015. You will learn how today’s successful marketers both internationally and locally are reaching customers using digital, building their brands with digital channels, and using the latest analytics and insight to enhance their brands“.
Sounds great. Website looks good. Then you look at the speakers to check them out and see what wonderful stories, insights and knowledge they are going to share. And your heart drops a little as you realise it is a mainly all male event. Only two out of the 17 speakers announced to date are female. What is even more disheartening is how this number is decreasing as the years go on.
Maryrose of BrightSpark Consulting highlighted the issue on Twitter and said it is a “ridiculously small number“. She then goes on to ask what percentage of the Marketing Institute members are female. Had they tried Speakific? Are they paying the speakers enough?
DigiWomen called the Marketing Institute to see what was behind the ridiculously small number of female speakers. The organiser said they had been inviting speakers since August 2014 to speak at the 2015 event. And had a 60% refusal rate from female speakers. The reasons for these refusals were not clear. I did ask for exact numbers, however, they were not forthcoming.
The organiser did express her frustration about being called out on this matter. The Women On Air list and DigiWomen were suggested as a reliable resource to get speakers. Over a thousand female experts in fact. The organiser went on to say that they cannot just put a call out for speakers as they need specific experts for their event. More questions to ask. What is the criteria for these expert speakers? What is the selection process?
This is not an isolated issue and the Marketing Institute is not alone when it comes to having a poor gender balance at conferences. When we called the Sunday Business Post about their all male line up for their last conference we got this response “We are currently chasing a Female speaker for the SMO Masterclass”
I know from experience that organising events is not easy. And it can be challenging to get the right kind of speaker. The question organisers need to ask is what sort of message are they sending out there. And are they willing to work harder at getting a better gender balance. The Marketing Institute wants people to come out to hear todays “most successful marketers“. The message is clear only two of those successful marketers are female. And DigiWomen firmly believe that you cannot be what you don’t see.
Again event organisers need to work harder to #changetheratio. I have suggestions which I will share in another post. And their sponsors need to take responsibility. As do the speakers. It’s 2015 not 1915. Things have got to change sooner rather than later.