She Says - Ashoka, Women Social Entrepreneurs and Conferences
Even though women constitute almost 50% of the world’s population , they continue to be disproportionately underrepresented in leadership positions and systematically face a lack of access to the social and capital resources that would allow them to maximize their success. According to The World Bank, the structural and social barriers begin in childhood, but as boys and girls gets older, the gender gap in poverty further widens.
The ascensions of women to top leadership positions in male dominated industries remains rather low despite breakthroughs made by women in the last decades. In the EU, women still tend to be employed less when compared to men, are employed in lower-paid sectors, work on average 6 hours longer per week in total (paid and unpaid) but have fewer paid hours, take more career breaks and face fewer and slower promotions.
However, the reason why women and men have different leadership paths it is not because they are innately different, but because their experiences are substantially contrasting. As a woman, it is less likely to be recognized as a leader. It is important to know that if people are regularly exposed to certain leaders’ typologies, leaders who fit the same profile in the future will be more likely to be noticed. One sure way to make people see more women as leaders is to introduce more women in authentic leadership roles. And this is where high-level conferences can be more than what they already are. Conferences are part of the work experience and that is why attending companies, non-profit organizations and public institutions can have a real impact on the representation and experiences of women. Women entrepreneurs themselves have stated that lack of visibility in their fields on a national level is one of the main barriers to success.6 Their active participation on high-level events might be game-changing opportunities.
Europe offers a great variety of conferences throughout the year. These are considered to be a space not only for connecting with people from across the continent, but for expanding your knowledge, learning beyond your field of interest and finding the unusual actors that might be a great fit for your project. Founders, investors, entrepreneurs, global thinkers are all gathered in a vibrant community that can only guarantee an experience translated in a constant evolution. However, no matter how high-level a conference is, the pattern that is so stringent in society repeats itself: women are underrepresented no matter the country, no matter the field. Why is this happening and how can we reshape the pattern?