3 Main Reasons why there are Few Women Speakers

The number of women speakers across the world is relatively low compared to the number of male speakers. Speaking in public is a national fear that women deal with. Even though the majority of women have strong personalities, most of them cannot develop a “voice” hence are unable to express themselves through public speaking.

The following are some of the reasons why there are fewer women speakers:

1. Imposter Syndrome

A lot of women don’t feel qualified enough to speak on a topic, or they believe that there are other people out there who are much more experienced and engaging. Even though imposter syndrome is not a gender-specific fact, women are more likely to shy away from opportunities they perceive as self-promotional. A woman is likely to experience imposter syndrome if she is asked to submit content for public speaking.

Women can mitigate this syndrome by surrounding themselves with a strong network of mentors and other women who believe in them and can encourage them to explore their career whether it is about positions of leadership or speaking opportunities. A woman’s success and confidence are directly connected to the support she receives from her family or close friends.

2. Lack of Speaking Experience

If a speaker has not presented at many events, he or she might not be confident about himself or herself. People think that a lot of people feel honored or excited to present at a conference, but the truth is that most of them are terrified of public speaking. A few women get to present on stage, meaning they are very vulnerable to this problem.

Organizers can fix this problem by reminding the potential speaker that she approached her for particular reasons. If the event organizer plans to invite new speakers, he/she should consider how he can mentor these women. The organizer can either offer a speaking coach or connect them with a more experienced mentor. The event organizer can also plan for formal meetings to take them through their presentations.

3. Fear of Harassment

A not-so-good talk usually attracts critical feedback. That’s understandable. However, women have received public criticism for their tone of voice, facial expression, what they choose to wear on stage, etc. Being mocked publicly on twitter using the event hashtag is not something new. And in some cases, women speakers have been harassed even outside the stage.

Events and conferences should have policies to protect their speakers and the attendees from unsuitable content and ensure that all the people that attend the conference are acting professionally and appropriately.

Apart from public humiliation, women speakers have also been exposed to physical harassment. A conference should have a code of conduct; lack of it can indicate a red flag. Having a code of conduct makes it easy to address concerns or handle incidents that may arise. A code of conduct sends a message that harassment won’t be tolerated and this can make women feel safe. That’s why each conference should develop a code of conduct.

Thanks to Subrata Das

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