Last week, I was sent a link to a creativity conference in Australia. A friend of mine suggested I follow the conference Twitter feed. The conference is called Creative Fuel (their site was down last time I looked). I went and had a look, and then moved on to Twitter to find their feed. I began reading some of the entries and came across this one…
Was there really such a gender imbalance at this particular creativity conference?
Apparently so. The speaker line up for Creative Fuel on 28 July 2014 has 9 men and 1 woman. Creative Fuel is part of a larger conference called ADMA Global Forum. This is the blurb from their website…
So why so few women speaking at ADMA Global Forum? I went and counted as many of the speakers as I could and found picture of 38 men and just 3 women.
Enter the Discovery Leadership Summit
This is not an Australian issue. This is a global issue, and we South African’s are as pathetic as the rest.
Two years ago I was involved in a conversation on Twitter around The Discovery Leadership Summit. It was the one where Bishop Tutu pulled out last minute. Two years ago there were no women speaking at the Discovery Leadership Summit. A collection of global leaders, and no women present? WTF!
Skip ahead to the 2014 Discovery Leadership Summit line up (it was held on 4 March 2014)…. there was now one woman speaker (Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita).
The most intriguing part of my conversations during the past week was the fact that not one of the people I spoke to, when looking at the speakers on the Creative Fuel website, noticed the massive void of women speakers.
Why is this I keep wondering to myself? Why can we not quickly and easily spot the massive skewed ratio of men and women when looking at a poster of faces? Is it because we’ve become accustomed to seeing ratios of 9:1? Is it because we don’t think women have a contribution to make?
Let me be clear when I say that this post is not about ratios. I’m not a big fan of the 50:50 representation idea. I am, however, a big fan of diversity of world view. Especially in forums where creativity and leadership are going to be explored. There’s no doubt that characteristics like gender, culture, age, amongst others, are huge contributors to diversity of world view.
Diversity is a not a ‘nice to have’ at these types of events. I’d go as far as to say that if there isn’t diversity amongst the speakers / contributors at a creativity or leadership forum, then you’re wasting your time and money being there.
I did come up with a solution. What if we represented the speaker line up differently for a conference? What if we didn’t show the speaker’s face? Might we see things differently? I sure as heck do.