‘Fed Up’

Author: Barbara Palmer       


The inaugural Pink Hour at IMEX in Frankfurt, Germany, last week, celebrating women in the meetings and events industry.

Only 30 percent of the women who responded to a new international survey about women in the meetings and events industry said they feel as if they are treated equally compared to men when it comes to salary. And almost half — 49 percent — said that their career opportunities aren’t equal to those of their male colleagues.

munich_pinkThe survey, “Women in the Event and Meeting Industry 2017,” was conducted by the German magazine tw tagungswirtschaft, which published the results in its May issue. The results also were presented at IMEX in Frankfurt, Germany, last week; the IMEX Group partnered with tw to conduct the survey.

“We thought it was just a ‘little’ survey,” said IMEX CEO Carina Bauer, “but it unearthed quite a big issue.” Within three weeks of its release, the survey had generated nearly 1,000 responses, mostly from Germany and other European countries, but also from North America, along with a handful of responses from Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia.

The conviction that there is gender inequality in industry salaries has been regularly supported by Convene’s own annual Salary Survey, the latest edition of which will be published next week — and again will show that the pay scale is tipped in favor of men: Among respondents, male event professionals out-earned their female peers by 22 percent.

In the tw survey, there were areas in which women felt there was more parity with men, including training and autonomy — 78 and 83 percent of respondents, respectively, felt treatment was equal in those areas. A little less than three-quarters — 73 percent — felt they were on equal ground with men in the area of trust.

Almost two-thirds of respondents — 64 percent — said that the events industry needs more female leadership. In an industry where women make up 70 to 80 percent of the workers, “I’m fed up with men being the bosses and women being just the busy bees,” one survey respondent wrote. Another chafed against the “ever-present all-male CEO panels.”  It should be noted, however, that 78 percent of respondents said they didn’t care if their boss was male or female. “The majority believes,” according to the magazine, “it isn’t a matter of gender — it all depends on the individual, [their] character, and skills.”

IMEX and TW Media  celebrated the release of the survey with the “first-ever Pink Hour,” a networking reception for women on the exhibition floor, featuring cupcakes and glasses of rosé wine. The reception, intended to be a celebration of women for women, wasn’t without controversy. Some IMEX attendees objected to the “women-only” focus, underscoring the fact that it’s a challenging topic to discuss, Bauer said.

“We were very impressed by the great feedback from many of our partners before the survey opened as well as the actual level of response,” Bauer told the IMEX Daily. “This suggests that we have asked  about the right subject at the right time.”

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