What Happened When We Listed Women-Only For One Week

What Happened When We Listed Women-Only For One Week

10 min read
We highlighted women for International Women’s Day. Here’s what happened.
It’s a fact: gender equality is alive and thriving in the business events industry across pay, career opportunities and leadership roles. No prizes for guessing who’s faring better!

We decided to get active and do something about it this International Women’s Day.

Call us crazy, but for an entire week our talent website showed only women. We wanted to shine the spotlight on gender bias in business events, inspire everyone to make more gender balanced decisions and show that companies like ours can take action and make a positive difference.

Here we present the surprising results of our gender equality project.

Index (skip to content)

We highlighted women for International Women’s Day. Here’s what happened. Click To Tweet

Infographic kindly produced by Venngage Report Maker

How a niche events company put gender equality on the radar for event management decisions. Click To Tweet

Status Quo: Women Get the Rough End of the Stick

The high number of women working in events might lead to a conclusion that all is well and balanced between the genders.

A deeper dive, however, shows inequality in events with fewer women in senior positions and a significant pay gap, as it does in the wider Australian business landscape. Take a look at any Aussie talent bureau website and see that male speakers and performers outnumber females. It’s a similar story around the world according to a 2018 analysis from Bizzabo:

If you think the high number of women working in events equals gender balance, think again. Click To Tweet

The Tweet That Gave us a Bee in Our Bonnet

A few years ago, we copped some digital flack for the ‘Disruption Speaker Scale’ infographic as a helpful tool for clients. A flurry of tweets from industry leaders pointed out the all-white, all-male speaker suggestions.

We quickly got to work and updated our ‘manel’ to a more gender-balanced panel, but it still left us feeling determined to do more about gender inequality in events.

International Women’s Day #BalanceForBetter was the perfect opportunity for us to release that bee from under our bonnet.

International Women’s Day was the perfect time to raise awareness of gender disparity in events. #BalanceForBetter Click To Tweet

Hello, Women! Bye Men, See You in a Week

Our intention was first and foremost to present all our talented women for clients to choose for their events, and not about deleting men per se.

Here’s what we did:

  • Reached out to our male talent, as we wanted to let them know why they’d suddenly disappear for a week!
    They were incredibly supportive and generous with their social shares.
  • Created and shared content around the theme #BetterForBalance, including Calling For Gender Equality in the Events Industry and our showcase of top female talent Amazing Achievements In An Unbalanced World.
  • Removed all male talent from our website for the entire week of International Women’s Day (4 Mar – 11 Mar 2019).

    We applied the following criteria:

    • Individual talent must be female (speakers and solo artists).
    • Groups must be all female (stage shows and cover bands). One male member would exclude the group, with the following exception:
      • Where a female solo artist has supporting males and the performance is identified by the female artist (and not by the supporting males).
  • Added explainers to our website to let our clients know what we were up to, and to hopefully plant the seed of #BalanceForBetter in their future talent selections ?
Self-reflection on our own practice was a big part of the project. We crunched the numbers to find out where we have gender gaps in our talent listings across various entertainment categories and fields of speaker expertise on our website.

Enhance crunched the numbers to find out where gender gaps in talent across entertainers and speakers. Click To Tweet

The Results

Apart from the technical headache of temporarily deleting way more than half of our talent listings, the results gave us a starting point to find the gender gaps and start reaching out to more female talent.

We split the analysis by the two segments of talent we showcase on our website: Speakers and Entertainers.

The Speakers

Gender Gaps
Speakers Overall

In our overall speaker segment, which includes presenters, MCs and keynote speakers, males dominate.

Business Speakers

When we drilled deeper into the different speaker categories or fields of expertise, we found some key differences. In the Business Speaker category, men are streets ahead:

When we split Business Speaker by specific topic, it showed gender imbalance across the board.

In most fields, women represent around only a third of speakers, with a very low 11% female Economy & Finance expert speakers.

Gender Balance
Lifestyle Expert Speakers

We’re delighted to report a more positive story of gender equality amongst our Lifestyle Expert Speakers.

Although, perhaps predictably, there are significantly fewer female Sports Speakers, there’s far more balance in Food & Wine, Celebrity and Health Wellbeing Speakers.

Masters of Ceremony

Masters of Ceremony (MCs) are also more evenly spread between men and women. This is most likely due to the fact that female celebrities, such as TV personalities and news readers, are very popular choices for MCs.

Inspirational & Motivational Speakers

To clarify, inspiring and motivating speakers are all about promoting positive change. They’re slightly different though, in that inspirational speakers focus on raising the mood, the thoughts and feelings of the audience, whereas motivational speakers aim to change future behaviours and actions, often around a specific business skillset.

Male and female inspirational speakers were fairly evenly split. Motivational speakers, not so much. It’s likely that males dominate this area in a similar way they dominate the more ‘old-school’ fields of business expertise like finance, leadership and economics.

The Entertainers

Gender Gaps
Headline Acts & Recording Artists

Only all-female groups and solo female artists were included in our definition of female Headline Acts & Recording Artists. For clarity, we excluded females heading up a male band, and majority female bands. As suspected, our headline acts were weighted more favourably towards males.

Calling all female DJs and Jazz Artists…

There’s clearly a shortfall of female DJs and Jazz Artists, unlike the Classical & Ensemble performers who are fairly balanced across male to female. Cover Bands appear to be low for both all-female and all-male, with mixed bands more prevalent at more than half of the mix.

We did note, however, that all-male bands don’t promote themselves as gender specific, whereas all-female bands are touted as something special because of their gender singularity. Also, we observe that rarely are women in the kickass drummer, bass and shredding guitarist roles, and instead are usually lead or backup singer. Definitely food for thought!


Yikes. Not good! We can’t show any meaningful statistics here, because n=1. We only had one female magician in our showcase. Time to go looking for some fabulous women weaving magic in our midst, wethinks.

Gender Balance

Phew! That’s a relief after seeing how many female magicians we don’t list on our website. Female and male comedians are well balanced, with women tipping slightly over the line past men.

Roving & Illuminated Entertainers

#BetterForBalance rears its lovely head once again, with a balance of female to male Roving Entertainers, and a surprising almost three-quarters of Illuminated Entertainers being female. Women have clearly embraced technology and are successfully integrating it into their shows.

We’ll have to keep an eye out for more male Illuminated Entertainers to maintain a good balance!

Stage Shows
When it comes to Stage Shows, there’s an even split between male and female. Stage Shows are generally larger-scale, high-impact productions.

Women-only seem to be well represented in this sector: there are 38.6% all-women stage shows, which exactly equals all-male stage shows at 38.6%!

Our Learnings

Our decision to remove all men from our website for the entire week of International Women’s Day was a brave move for a niche company like ours. We did it with eyes wide open about the risk of lost business, but we feel strongly about the need for better gender balance in business events.

The initiative taught us that inequality certainly does exist in the talent end of business events. We’ve identified the gaps in the talent we represent and we’ve already reached out to make more connections with female speakers and entertainers.

Gender Inequality is Real. Let’s Change It!

Women are slightly more than 50% of the Australian population, so they need to be fairly represented in all aspects of business events: in senior event management positions, as directors and CEOs of event firms, as keynote speakers, MCs and entertainers. Anything less than gender parity is a disservice to women in the industry, to audiences and to our local communities.

The first step is awareness, the second is action. Let’s all be more attuned to the issue of gender equality in business events, and keep it top of mind when making event management decisions. Together, we can make a difference!

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About the Author

Gav George

When his school music teacher loaned him a cassette tape (yes, he's that old) of a fusion band, Gav entered the jazz world after years of classical music training. He was lucky enough to play with some of the greatest living jazz musicians and toured key festivals. Then Enhance founder Alison Clarke called on Gav to work on the company's marketing. This led him to his new passion of… marketing! Gav oversees Enhance's marketing initiatives, gets a kick out of connecting with clients and unearthing new talent. Gav still has that cassette tape, so if his music teacher reads this, please get in touch so he can return it.

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