Home > NewsRelease > Innovation Women calls on event organisers & venues to commit to making events no “Manel Zones”
Innovation Women calls on event organisers & venues to commit to making events no “Manel Zones”
Innovation Women -- Speakers Bureau for Women Innovation Women -- Speakers Bureau for Women
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Boston , MA
Thursday, December 12, 2019


The new campaign urges conferences, event organisers and venues to support gender-balance, diversity and inclusion on stage.

Innovation Women, an online visibility bureau forentrepreneurial, technical and professional women, has announced the launch ofa new campaign calling on event organisers and venues to declare their events“No-Manel Zones.”

“Manel” is industry jargon for a panel of featured speakersat a conference or event consisting of all men. The No Manel Zone campaignurges conferences, event organisers and venues to create policies, procedures,guidelines and/or recommendations that support inclusion, diversity and gender-balancefor their speakers and presenters.

The No Manel Zone campaign also asks other speakers, panellistsand presenters to “speak up” when diversity and gender-balance is lacking.


“By working with speakers, presenters and by using toolslike Innovation Women, event organisers can usually fix a manel,” saidInnovation Women founder, Bobbie Carlton. “They might have to expand theirsearch or change the limiting parameters of the panel, but they can findadditional options. We’ve made it easier than ever to connect with femalespeakers through our self-service platform.

“Public speaking is an important path to thought leadership,expert status, credibility and career growth as well as better pay, morepromotions, board seats, and equal access to funding. But these are the factorsevent managers weigh before they invite a speaker – we need to get more womenon stage at conferences and events so they can be seen as the leaders theyare.”

Speaking exclusively to Event Industry News, Carlton added:“This is a global problem. No geography is doing a good job although some aredoing better than others.”

“Aside from the fairness of it, speaking engagements (andthe inherent visibility and credibility that come with them) drive business andcareer success. When we speak, we are perceived as thought leaders and experts.The more women are held back from the stage, the longer we will keep beingperceived as “less than” and likely paid less.

“Public speaking is a huge career booster. People who areseen on stage have better potential to be contacted by reporters and quoted orseen by recruiters who can offer them jobs.

“From the point of view of the event manager – more diversepanels and speaking slates drive better events. Not only are diverseexperiences and points of view key to an interesting conversation but bringingin speakers from different groups helps expand an event’s community,potentially driving better ticket sales.  And, let’s not forget the PRissues and social media outrage that comes along with All Male Panels!”

Innovation Women has claimed conferences also need toconsider:

  • The diversity among their keynotes, featured speakers and MCs
  • How they promote their speakers
  • The diversity of participation during roundtables, pitches, hack-a-thons and other event segments.

Event organisers can sign up to receive a free No Manel Zonekit, including a No Manel Zone badge, diverse and inclusive events guidelines,sample codes of conduct and more.

“We hope the No Manel Zone campaign inspires event organiserseverywhere to take action by creating policies, procedures, and guidelines thatsupport inclusion, diversity and gender balance,” added Carlton.

Charter members of the No Manel Zone campaign include Massachusetts Instituteof Technology (MIT), Hubspot, Mass TLC, Forge, Greentown Labs, and CapitalNetwork.

“In my experience, historically dominant all-male panels arethe accidental result of network effect – men in leadership tapping theirrelationships which happen to be largely men in leadership – that can be solvedfor with an intentional, systematic approach to reaching out to and recruitinga more diverse speaker group,” said Laura Teicher, executive director of Forge.“At FORGE, where we support dozens of hardware start-ups and technical founderseach year, we take the importance of this seriously, and are committed to ourpledge.” 

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Innovation Women
Lexington, MA
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