Thursday Buzz: Is Your Conference Seating Sexist?

If you're not careful, your stage design may put female panelists in uncomfortable situations. Also: What a retired Air Force four-star general has to say about leadership.

Audiences are craving to hear more thought leadership from women at events, and many associations are following through. But as more women take the stage, there’s one thing all event pros need to keep in mind: chairs.

“Nearly every femme-identifying person I know has wrestled with tall bar stools, directors chairs, deep arm chairs, and more,” Motherboard columnist Rose Eveleth wrote. “Recently at a podcasting conference I watched as a woman perched herself awkwardly at the edge of an armchair that was elevated so her crotch was exactly at eye level for the audience.”

Stage seating is often designed for people in pants, but since not everyone wears pants, make sure that your seating is accessible and comfortable for those in dresses and skirts.

Eveleth spoke with Trevor Knoblich, the head of programs and special events at the Online News Association, who commented that the problem could stem from event planners falling back on ideas that they’ve seen previously. “When organizers have more time to plan, I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options available, so you default to what you’ve seen other events do,” Knoblich explained.

Four-Star Advice

You’d be correct to think that Lester Lyles—a retired Air Force four-star general, former commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, and the current board chairman of the United Services Automobile Association—has a lot to say about leadership. But what’s his number-one lesson?

“There are three words that describe my management style: communicate, communicate and communicate,” he tells The Washington Post. “As a leader, you must communicate upward to those for whom you work, communicate laterally to those who you partner with, and communicate with those who work for you.”

Other Links of Note

It just got easier to sell merch on Patreon. The patronage platform just acquired Kit, a merchandising logistics startup, reports TechCrunch.

Provide a fun team-building experience. Beth’s Blog shares tips for an effective nonprofit retreat.

Being conversational doesn’t mean you have to sound like a preteen. Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog reveals how to adopt a less formal tone.

(brizmaker/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Raegan Johnson

By Raegan Johnson

Raegan Johnson is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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