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Join us in elevating women's stories and diversifying the voices and faces you see on stage at industry conferences across the country.

Why we are here

We’ve all heard over and over again from event organizers how "hard" it is to find women that want to speak - let alone a diverse cross-section of women. Women are half the planet, so that's hard to believe, right? 

The funny thing is, on average filling 1 spot on a panel requires asking at least 5 women to every 1 man. That means, to fill a panel of 4 women, it might require having a list of 20 women to ask. Meanwhile, for men, it's more like 1 to 1 ratio. Knowing this, usually people say, they didn't ask ENOUGH women because they couldn’t even find "enough" women to ask to balance things out. How can that be? Mitt Romney even has "Binders full of women!"

Who we are

My name is Brady Hahn. As a consultant, I have curated and developed over 300 sessions at conferences across the globe for major brands. Doing this work I have noticed a few things:

  1. Men say yes more often. Per above, saying "yes," means you get the spot. It's amazing how many women say they want to speak and then say "no" to a perfect opportunity. I will note: It also tends to be the case that women hit a stride in their career around that "prime" time to start families - so some of us do have less time "on the table." Also most speaking events are during a work day, which means being out of the office, or they are at night, which means staying out late on your own time - so you gave to weigh it.

  2. Women tend to prioritize "others" first. This is not exclusive to women by any means, but many of us find this to be true: women leaders are more likely to give the opportunity to someone else on their team. In many workplaces, there is a big chance that person to the left or right is male, or a woman who also passes (see above).

  3. Research is hard. On the planning side, it takes a lot of time to look for new speakers (that's why a lot of the same people appear on stage at so many different events). On the speaker’s side, you have to know organizers are even looking for speakers. More often than not, events don't come on the radar until they are open for attendee registration, and then it's typically too late to apply to speak.

  4. The criteria for selecting speakers doesn’t make sense. The most common criteria for a speaker to be selected is based on if they have a c-suite job title and/or have published a book. But if research shows that women with more than enough qualifications, still don’t have the titles to show for it - this narrow criteria is going to disqualify most female experts, even before their bios are read. Speaking of bios, (which we know are notoriously under-utilized as a self promotion opportunity), they don’t always show how qualified women are and unless it comes with a personal referral, it isn’t always the strongest foot forward.

Knowing this, the open listserv started in summer/fall of 2016 to share things that come across my desk. It organically formed through friends and referrals. With the intention of keeping it small, curated group of experts in different fields. In the first year, over 60 women were booked for panels, keynotes, and podcasts. That number has continued to grow since.  

How to get involved

There are several ways you can help change the faces we see on stages:

If you want to speak: Please start/keep saying, "Yes!" Your knowledge and stories are important and there is an audience for what you are trying to give to the world. Join other lists and Facebook groups for women speakers and join the speaker list here.

If you are curating events: Ask for help and be persistent. There are so many people who want you to find talented experts from all different backgrounds to speak at your event. A great place to start, ask your past speakers to nominate someone. But it's up to you to keep looking and to not settle for anything less than equal representation. Get a speaker referral here

If you want to support: So maybe all of this is great, but not in your wheelhouse. No problem. Be a champion of other people in your life by nominating them for things they might want, but need the help to get it and by sharing resources like this. Because that's what community and connection are all about. Join our newsletter to get more ideas and insights.

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