‘The Voice’ for Conferences
As a guy I’m not qualified to comment on much of Rhea’s excellent post which started this conversation, although as a father of a daughter I can thank you for raising the awareness of my half of the population on the extra challenges women face in business presentation contexts.
But it makes me think, riffing off Donna’s idea, that co-created conferences may offer a partial solution.
TL;DR: a co-created conference is where participants submit ideas via Calls for Papers, Workshops, Networking sessions, etc., online months before the event, and the ensuing online conversation helps the organisers choose which speakers get a slot / workshop room / coffee table.
When I started building these event websites in 2002 the issue of gender in conferences was simply not on my radar, so we always encouraged each submitter (and everyone else) to create a full Personal Profile on the website, providing more information to help the organisers make their choices.
hiding the identity of the submitting speakers would make the entire approach more meritocratic
But next time, I may suggest ensuring that Personal Profiles do not include photos or any gender or name information until the choice has been made, or perhaps even until the conference has been held.
That way, people would comment on, vote for and then attend sessions without knowing whether the speaker‘s gender, age, colour or attractiveness.
There may be some obvious objections — some people, after all, attend conferences specifically to listen to Word of Wisdom from high-profile speakers — but they’re usually invited keynoters anyway.
For the bottom-up element of co-created conferences, hiding the identity of the submitting speakers would make the entire approach more meritocratic, stimulate better submissions, and maybe even add a little surprise and spice to the proceedings.
Does anyone know anyone doing this?
If you like the idea, please Recommend this post to give it some air.