How to Beat This Excuse: There Are Not Enough Women in the Industry

“23% is good; women make up less than 30% of the workforce.”
“There just aren’t enough women in the industry, we tried hard to get 10%.”

There’s a growing wave of conversation right now about all-male panels and what we can do to put a stop to them. As we work together to create better gender balance, it’s important to be aware of the common excuses you’ll come across and how to respond to them.

This week we put the spotlight on SALT 2016, a major conference that featured only 11% women on its list of speakers. When GenderAvenger reached out to SALT conference organizer Anthony Scaramucci at the end of March, he used this classic excuse, and another SALT conference supporter followed suit.

GenderAvenger has encountered this excuse for Hall of Shame gender ratios so many times that we made it one of our top 10 classic excuses.

6 Ways to Respond to the Excuse That There Aren't Enough Women In the Industry

1. Help raise our collective voice by sharing on Twitter and Facebook and sending emails.

Because when we do, change is possible. After the GenderAvenger community reached out to Anthony Scaramucci this week, he responded by pledging to add more diversity to future SALT conferences.


GenderAvenger will be watching the SALT 2017 lineup to look for progress. At 11%, there’s a huge opportunity to do better.

2. Make the point that women speakers are out there.

Gender-balanced speaker lineups are not impossible, and there’s plenty of proof. There are women’s conferences chock full of high quality women speakers. There are conferences in nearly every industry that qualify for the [Hall of Fame][]. Using the excuse that there just aren’t that many women in the industry  is an admission of a lack of effort — if other conferences can pull this off, if other conferences can create gender-balanced speaker lists, why can’t you? Yes, it may take some extra effort. But that effort is worth it and will reward the conference with richer conversations, a more diverse array of experts, and a wider base of knowledge.

3. Share resources with organizers:

4. Take a deeper look:

Are all of the speakers from the same industry? Rarely. Both of the tweets about SALT Conference 2016 pointed out a lack of women in “the industry,” but a quick look at the conference’s about page and speaker list show that several industries are represented, which is often the case for conference lineups.

5. Be sure to aim high.

It is important to aim high. Waiting for industry numbers to catch up with the pressure of attention results in all too incremental change. Do not settle for artificial constraints.

6. If there a real lack of women in the industry, it is all the more reason to feature women to show that they are welcome and valued.

Those numbers will never change if conferences don’t prioritize women experts onstage.

We can put an end to all-male panels and make sure women’s voices are represented in the public dialog, but to do that, we need to make our voices heard and speak up when we see a lack of women in a conference agenda.

Feeling inspired to make some noise? Here are a few more ways you can take action today: