A new report from Bizzabo found that less than a third of event presenters globally were women, with the gender gap most pronounced at technology events.
Conference panels often draw a lot of scrutiny due to their lack of diversity, particularly when they feature only male panelists—often referred to as “manels.”
A new report from the event technology company Bizzabo underlines this point. Its Gender Diversity & Inclusion in Events Report, an analysis of more than 60,000 presenters at events over the past five years, found that just 31 percent of conference speakers globally were female. While the U.S. does slightly better, at 35 percent, most other countries—including highly developed ones such as the United Kingdom and The Netherlands—do not. The country surveyed with the least representation, Poland, had just 10 percent female representation at its events.
The report noted that just as representation differs by country, different kinds of industry events tend to do better than others. Higher education (44 percent women), education management (41 percent), marketing, and human resources (39 percent each) have the best representation, but a number of technology-related fields, including internet (21 percent), information technology (20 percent), venture capital (18 percent), and telecommunications (16 percent), ranked at the bottom. Fundraisers tend to be the most common type of event for female speakers, with such events made up of 54 percent women, but internal events (35 percent), conferences (32 percent), and networking events (29 percent) tend to be a bit more lopsided.
The report noted that there was some improvement in gender distribution in recent years, but it actually slightly fell from its position in 2017.
Beyond the findings themselves, perhaps the most interesting part of the study is how it was done. Bizzabo analyzed events using high-end, facial-recognition technology to track different kinds of speakers, while keeping their identities anonymous. The use of artificial intelligence allowed for findings that were accurate nearly 100 percent of the time.
Alon Alroy, Bizzabo’s cofounder, noted that the study was undertaken in an attempt to highlight the value of gender diversity.
“By releasing this data, we hope to spotlight the lack of representation that’s still, unfortunately, too common,” Alroy stated in a blog post.