Best of 2011: Rachel Sklar on Why You Should Recruit More Women Speakers

November 30, 2011, 8:45 AM EST

Hey, you, organizing that conference and hosting that panel. Look at your lineup. Notice anything … missing? Let’s try this again: If your lineup were a bar, would it make for a fun bachelor party? If your lineup were a movie, would it be Glengarry Glen Ross? If your lineup were a country club, would it be the kind John Boehner would enjoy? I’ll put it more bluntly: Odds are, your lineup is woefully short on women.

It’s not your fault—you asked that one prominent woman in your industry and she said no! Just kidding, it is your fault: It’s 2011, and qualified women are everywhere—and the lack of them makes your event sort of suck. In addition to being mad qualified, women bring a different perspective, have different anecdotes, and see different patterns. They also move more merch: As top-tier venture capitalist Aileen Lee noted last year, they’re responsible for 77 percent of Groupon sales, 74 percent of Gilt Groupe revenue, 60 percent of Zynga game play, and 55 percent of mobile social network usage.

This isn’t some affirmative action play. (Though really, Conferences & Power Lists That Shall Remain Nameless, have you noticed that we’re half the population? Hi!) It’s good business, now and going forward. Your sponsors will notice. Your audience will notice. The media will notice. The other panelists will notice—because the conversation will be better, the discourse will be higher, and honestly, the clothes will be better.

In 2011, it seems silly to even have to write this. So for 2012, step into the future (by way of the present), and let the good times roll.  

—Rachel Sklar, co-founder (with Emily Gannett, @EmilyGannett), Change the Ratio, New York, @rachelsklar


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