Gender 50/50: How are we doing?



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Three months ago my colleagues Giorgia Lucciola and Nicky Yates came to me with an idea to launch a campaign to address the gender balance disparities that exist across all Social Media Week events globally.

We realized that, despite our best intentions, we were falling short of our diversity targets. So, in May we decided to launch Gender 50/50. The goal was to achieve a 50/50 split between men and women speakers (4,000) across all events (2,500 annually) and throughout all advisory boards (26+) in each of our 18 markets by the end of 2014.

Why? It’s our belief that this will bring a deeper, more meaningful and diverse conversation to SMW overall. The key thing is we all gain when all our voices are represented and all perspectives are shared.

So, what have we done, how is it going and what have we achieved since we launched Gender5050 back in May?


The event component of SMW is a network of distributed conferences with local teams responsible for executing all aspects of running the event. This approach means we must relinquish control to our local teams, which, in almost all scenarios results in the best and often the most unexpected exciting outcome. However, when we try and mandate something like Gender5050, things become more tricky, but we’re making solid progress.

With our September schedule now live, we have determined that 29% of our speakers are female. This is by no means where we had hoped to be at this point, but it’s an important reminder that we have a long way to go and much more work to do.

We have 6 weeks before our September event to improve upon this, so if you know of amazing female speaker who you think we should be including, please let us know in the comments.

Advisory Board Members

Our Advisory Boards help guide our local and global leadership. They also help us curate diverse and meaningful programming, as well help us structure campaigns. For example, Deanna Zandt on our NYC Board played a large part in helping us structure Gender 50/50 in the first place.

By having a balance across our advisory boards we can move towards our goals with greater confidence. However, in a similar vein to our speakers, our local Advisory Boards are selected by our local markets. Based on September only, 42% of our board members (and team members) are female.

Leading the way are Berlin, London and Chicago, who have worked tremendously hard to provide a balance in this area. We strongly believe by continuing to increase this ratio, we’ll all benefit and glean from more women in leadership positions.

Looking Forward

When we undertook our goal of Gender 50/50, we knew it was vital we make progress. We also knew it would take a concentrated effort on all of our parts. We still has a ways to go to meet our goal, but we’re unwavering in our commitment and look forward to making continued improvements over the coming months.

Additionally we’ll also continue to be transparent about our progress; and we’ll look to you to ask you to help support this goal and help us get there.

If you have ideas or suggestions for ways we can move forward, please contact us here.

Photo by Johannes Jansson/, via Wikimedia Commons

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