It has struck me several times over the past year...
that finding women to speak at conferences and events in our industry is not easy.

In my role as Deputy Chair of EUKSW, I help to organise an annual conference, and looking back over previous years, it would seem that they are populated by 90% men.

Me on the stage at the recent EUKSW conference - bricking it!
At ICEF Berlin, there are also very few women giving the seminars.

Looking around me at workshops and various industry shindigs, it would seem that women outnumber men 2-1. So why are we not leaning in and speaking up? It can't be because we have nothing to say.

I spoke to Jan Capper, who in her capacity as Executive Director of IALC, finds that there are just not the women out there to book as speakers.

'I recently realised that on average our panels are made up of only 20% women. The women are out there - but men just seem to put themselves forward more for speaking opportunities'.

So even once women find themselves in a position of power, like Jan, where they can influence the ratio of male to female speakers who appear at an event, actually finding those women is tough.

What can we do about this?

The team here at Lead5050 are starting a database of all female speakers available in the industry. We really need YOUR help to populate it. Please send us the names and hopefully Lead5050 will become the 'go to' association when people - men or women - are choosing speakers for their next plenary. You can email suggestions to me at ella@lead5050.com

'We should ALL make a pledge to put ourselves forward for any available speaking platform. This is a simple thing that we can all do, and can have a really positive impact on the industry in terms of encouraging other younger women to raise their profile', said Jan. #5050pledge

What a great idea - and something we can do simply. If we just have that as our goal for the next 12 months, what an impact we could have? I am certainly going to take that #5050pledge

So we've taken the pledge - now we need to take action - yikes!

Maybe you're like me - you really want to do some public speaking - it'll raise your profile and in my case, I really like showing off - but, you're fundamentally terrified of doing it.

Do you look at others speaking on stage and think - jeez, I could never do that - they seem to really know what they are talking about. Plus they're men - so they are just naturally more confident than me.

Me too.

Rationally we know that this is all nonsense - but still we tell ourselves these things.

We can't blame others for not booking us if we aren't putting ourselves forward.

So here's what YOU (and I) can do now to keep our pledge:

Read books on public speaking, and maybe even attend your local Toastmasters association to get yourself match ready. But don't use this as an excuse not to actually speak somewhere - 'I'm not ready, I need to practice more/read another book/watch another Ted talk'. This is what I say to myself. Yeah, yeah, whatever. Just do it.
Put yourself forward - don't wait to be asked.
Let everyone know that you are interested in speaking opportunities - the more people know, the more likely you will spring to mind at the next opportunity. (OK guys, I'm interested - even though typing that literally makes my stomach turn over)
Attend conferences and events you want to speak at and get to know the organisers.
Submit speaking proposals to these decision makers - be pushy.
And maybe next time I attend a conference, I might just see you up there on the stage and feel proud.



Ella TylerElla Tyler