Posted on September 18, 2018 by staff

No place for male-only panels


There is no place for men-only panels in today’s world and event organisers must go the extra mile to secure diverse speaking line-ups.

That is the view of Kirsty Devlin, who co-founded Women Who Keynote last year to make it easier for people to find female speakers.

The Women Who Keynote website showcases more than 300 women who are available to speak around the world on a variety of subjects.

“Diverse panels are better – and not having a diverse enough panel really is problematic these days,” she told BusinessCloud.

“Women Who Keynote is a platform designed for those that identify as women to promote themselves for speaking opportunities.

“Denying women opportunities to present at professional conferences and feature at events prevents them from gaining visibility and deprives their colleagues of their valuable perspectives. Failure to listen to the voices of female experts contributes to the continued gender diversity problems experienced in many industries.

“It’s more damaging to not try and find a diverse panel and just use your own network to find speakers.”

Devlin’s comments come as BusinessCloud continues its hunt for 101 Female Entrepreneurs in Tech with the deadline for entries 28th September.

Devlin says that the small percentage of women in technology – between 17 and 19 per cent – poses a problem while it is often also difficult to persuade women to speak about their experiences and expertise.

“Confidence is a huge contributing factor to the lack of women available for speaking opportunities,” she explained. “You might not think that you’re experienced enough to speak, but you just need to give it a try – and put yourself out of your comfort zone.

“It’s really important to be visible and show your knowledge and expertise.”

Devlin has experience at several highly-rated technology businesses with Manchester bases including Webantic and ThoughtWorks.

She says most of the speakers on the website are from a tech background.

“The other day I was contacted by someone who wanted to know if I knew any women who could speak about cryptocurrency.

“I personally didn’t, so I went to the website – and saw there were six people who could speak on that subject.

“It’s an amazing list of women, or people who identify as women, to identify themselves as open for speaking opportunities and panels, podcasts and judging panels.

“We believe that more women need to be visible to change the daily imbalances in STEM.”