Shattering the Glass Ceiling: How the Events Industry Can Truly Embrace Equality

Imagine this: you’ve poured your heart and soul into a flawless event. From meticulous vendor selection to a perfectly choreographed programme, it’s a triumph of organisation and creativity. Yet, come evaluation time, the credit goes to your male colleague, while your expertise is brushed aside. This is a disheartening reality for many women in the events industry, a sector that, despite boasting a whopping 76.9% female workforce, according to the Global Meetings Industry Report 2020, still struggles with deep-rooted gender inequality.

    So, why the disconnect? The truth is, that women are often concentrated in lower-paying, support roles, while leadership positions remain firmly in the hands of men. Research by Leeds Beckett University, highlights this imbalance, pointing towards a need for both structural changes and targeted interventions to dismantle these barriers. Let’s delve deeper and explore some lesser-discussed aspects of gender discrimination in the events industry.

    1. Beyond the Numbers: The Microaggressions that Matter
    Statistics paint a clear picture, but the real sting lies in the day-to-day experiences. A 2020 study by the University of Leeds, explores the concept of “microaggressions” – subtle, often unintentional acts of prejudice. Women in events frequently encounter these, from being addressed as assistants despite holding senior positions to having their ideas dismissed or downplayed. These seemingly minor instances chip away at confidence and create a hostile work environment.

     2. Unconscious Bias: The Invisible Inhibitor
    Unconscious bias plays a significant role in perpetuating gender stereotypes. Think about it – women are expected to possess exceptional organisational skills, but their leadership potential might be questioned. This bias can manifest in recruitment practices, where women are held to a higher standard or overlooked for promotions simply because they don’t fit a preconceived notion of a leader.

     3. Maternity and the Motherhood Penalty
    Motherhood shouldn’t be a career roadblock. However, the events industry, notorious for its long hours and demanding schedules, often makes it difficult for women to navigate childcare and professional responsibilities. A supportive workplace culture that embraces flexible working arrangements and acknowledges the challenges of working parenthood is crucial for retaining talent and fostering a truly inclusive environment.

     4. What Can We Do? Building a More Equitable Events Industry
    Change requires a multi-pronged approach. Here are some actionable steps:

    • Mentorship and Sponsorship Programs: Programs that connect senior women with their peers can provide invaluable guidance and support. Sponsorship programs, where senior leaders actively champion women for promotions, can make a real difference.
    • Data-driven decision-making: Regularly collecting and analysing data on gender representation within the organisation can unearth hidden biases and pave the way for targeted interventions.
    • Flexible Working: Offering flexible working arrangements allows women to balance their careers with childcare or other commitments, fostering a more inclusive work environment.
    • Bystander Intervention Training: Equipping employees with the skills to identify and address microaggressions can create a culture of respect and inclusivity.

    The events industry thrives on creativity, collaboration, and a diverse pool of ideas. Eradicating gender discrimination isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s a strategic imperative for a thriving industry. By fostering a culture of equality and dismantling these hidden barriers, we can ensure that every talented individual, regardless of gender, has the opportunity to shine.


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