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"Don't call me dear"

The rate of participation in the survey "Women in the Meeting and Event Industry" was high; numerous options for improvement were exposed: in terms of salary and career opportunities, half of the responding women stated that they did not feel they were being treated on par with their male counterparts.

n occasion of the International Women's Day on March 8, 2017, the trade magazines tw tagungswirtschaft and m+a report jointly with the Imex trade show launched a survey on "Women in the Meeting and Event Industry – equal partner or assistant?". The high rate of participation was the first finding: within three weeks, 3,059 women opened the link to the survey, almost every third one of these (909) gave answers to the questions: 578 in German, 331 in English. 798 women stated their origin: 628 from Europe, thereof 473 from Germany, 35 from Austria, 28 from Great Britain, 19 from Belgium, 11 from Italy, and other countries. 150 respondents live in Northern America, ten in Asia, seven in Africa, two in Southern America and one in Australia.

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Events are a people’s business. Which three skills distinguish women and men? The „word clouds“ illustrate the answers.

The respondents' diverse functional positions are representative for the entire industry. The largest single group (19.07%) is in the employ of exhibition organizers, 17.22% work in corporations organizing meetings, 11.26% in an association organizing meetings. 11.39% work for an event agency, a PCO or a DMC, 14.57% in a congress center or hotel, 8.48% in a convention bureau and/or tourist office. 8.74% are self-employed. The majority of respondents (56.27%) is employed, 81.56 percent of these in full-time and 18.44 percent in part-time positions. The share of women in management positions is quite high: three out of ten women are executive managers, each tenth woman is owner, three of one hundred women are CEOs. This is also reflected in the years of work in the meeting industry: six of ten women have been working in this sector for more than ten years, every fourth woman looks back to more than 20 work years. Approximately 50% of those questioned are older than 40 years. 594 women gave an answer to the question "Are you happy with your job“: 65.66% said: "Yes, I love it“, while 31.99% said "It's ok".

The issue of equal treatment will obviously not lessen this love. In comparison with their male colleagues, only three out of ten women feel they've been equally treated when it comes to salary. Every second woman believes she has not been treated equally, two out of ten don't know. There was more than one woman who made herself clear by requesting “to be equally compensated as my male counterparts”. She added: "At this time I do twice as much work and am paid US$30,000 less per year." Career perspectives are also considered to be unjust: only four women out of ten believe that their prospects of career are identical to those of their male colleagues. Every second respondent believes there aren't identical career options, one out of ten doesn't know. Things look better when it comes to soft work conditions such as freedom of action and advance training, a domain in which eight of ten women feel they are being treated equally, as well as responsibility and trust, where seven of ten respondents believe they are on equal footing. A remarkable 68.10% of those questioned believe that their particular company supports women in leadership positions, while 18.10% are not convinced and 13.79% don't know.

78.03% of the respondents don't really care if their boss is a man or woman. The majority believes it isn't a matter of gender, it all depends on the individual's character and his/her leadership skills. "I've had both - and both had good and bad qualities, none of which were related to their gender", is a typical statement, with another one emphasizing: "I want the best candidate for the job". 13.67% preferred to have a male boss, because their experience shows that staff is more willing to follow a male leader than a female one. That often applies to customers as well. Others are afraid of "bitch fights", "cattiness" and "drama queens". One or the other respondent stated that men "simply get things done without lengthy discussions". Merely 8.30% prefer female supervisors, because that stands for open, democratic leadership and flat hierarchy, but also because they understand female issues much better, for example the balance between work and family ("She knows my struggle.").

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Nevertheless, 63.59% of the women are convinced that the meeting and event industry needs more female leadership. "Diversity is good for the society and any organization, any conference", is how one respondent commented. Another one criticized the "ever-present all-male-CEO-panels and heavyweight rounds with zero relevance, future- orientation or solution focus." Quite a few asked themselves questions: "Where are all those good project managers when it comes to climbing the career ladder?" "Who manages the majority of convention centers, tourism and convention bureaus? Who manages the hotels?" Others stated: "80% of our staff are female. The higher up the career ladder, the fewer the women." or "If you look at the Top 10 agencies, you have 80% women and 20% men. Men are always in senior management." Others take a more critical look at their same-gender peers: "Women need to want to be at the top. Most don't." or "Women seem to shy from taking risks and fail to assert themselves and their skills. That needs to be changed." Another respondent said: "Most meeting planners are women and they would benefit by seeing more people like them in leadership positions. They need to know they can aspire to those positions." Quite a few respondents let off some steam and insist on more women in leadership positions, "because I'm fed up with men always being the bosses and women being just the busy bees."


Auf die Frage „Fordern Sie uns – wie können Fachmessen und Fachmagazine Sie unterstützen?“ meinen 82,53% Frauen „Schreiben Sie über uns: Frauen in der Eventindustrie“ und 73,14% „Führen Sie Umfragen durch wie diese“. 81.41% wünschen sich Seminare zur Entwicklung von Führungseigenschaften, 78,74% Plattformen zur Begegnung und zum Austausch. tw tagungswirtschaft, m+a report und IMEX sehen das als Auftrag. Wir laden alle Frauen herzlich zur ersten „Pink hour@Imex“ ein: Mittwoch, 17. Mai 2017, 16.00 h am tw-Stand G180.

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48.66% are not in favor of fixing a female quota as a means to offset female discrimination in leadership positions. 37.03% are in favor of such a quota, 14.31% don't know. Of the 349 women in leadership positions, 33.52% "occasionally", 12.32% "often" and 2.01% "very often" experience discrimination. A German respondent stated that she "experiences discrimination particularly with men from other cultural environments." "People occasionally call me ‘dear’ or ‘sweetie’ They wouldn't do that to a man", was yet another statement. "Mainly because of my age - I am under 30 and look younger. People assume I am an assistant versus the event owner and decision maker", is how one respondent summarized her experiences.

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There was extensive input in response to the question: "What would be a perfect working environment look like for a woman in a leadership role?“ The consensus is: "An environment that enables work-family balance, where I am respected for my skills and compensated fairly in my salary." As was to be expected, compatibility of family and career was at the top of the list, as it requires flexible work schedules and home-office options; other important issues related to appreciation of work, respect and confidence concomitant with full budget and personnel responsibility. "Though my boss tells me that I should lead the team and take it forward, to the team he says that we are all equal and there is no hierarchy between us and everyone should assume his/her responsibilities…", is a telling testimonial. Many women extended the compatibility requirement to include men as well. "I think it's important for both men and women that leadership positions are compatible with family responsibilities. It must be possible to fill management positions in part-time as well."



Heike Mahmoud, Director Conventions, VisitBerlin Berlin Convention Office

tw: Das Thema „Frauen in der Veranstaltungswirtschaft“ liegt Ihnen am Herzen. Wieso?
Heike Mahmoud: Die Meetingindustrie ist eine der dynamischsten Branchen überhaupt: Hier treffen sich Menschen, die sich zu Ideen und Innovationen austauschen, die lernen und sich verbessern wollen – unabhängig von Herkunft, Hautfarbe, Religion, Geschlecht und Alter. Frauen passen hervorragend in dieses anspruchsvolle Umfeld: Sie sind sehr ehrgeizig, haben ein hohes Qualitätsbewusstsein und verbinden Menschen. Darum geht es in unserer Branche.

Haben es Frauen mit Karriereabsichten in der Kongressindustrie schwerer oder leichter?
Know-how, Offenheit für Innovationen und Mut, neue Wege zu gehen sind die Grundlagen für jede Karriere. Unsere Branche verfügt über einen sehr hohen Frauenanteil. Es gibt schon viele sehr erfolgreiche Frauen in Führungspositionen, jedoch ist die Mehrzahl der CEO- und Top-Positionen eher männlich besetzt. Wir Frauen sollten mehr Mut aufbringen, unser Wissen und unsere Leistungen strategisch einzusetzen! Und wir müssen unsere Netzwerke viel mehr für unsere Karriere zu nutzen!

In unserer Frauenumfrage fragten wir: „Wenn Sie an Frauen in Führungspositionen denken: Welcher Name kommt Ihnen in den Sinn?“ Ihr Name fiel öfters. Was glauben Sie, warum?
Ist das so? Erfolgreich als Frau in einer Führungsposition zu sein, heißt für mich, Verantwortung zu übernehmen – für Kunden, Mitarbeiter, das Unternehmen und für sich selbst. Frauen wollen immer perfekt sein, 200% geben. Aber ist das ein Ziel? Ich denke, wir sollten mehr auf unsere Stärken, auf unsere Talente und unsere Interessen achten und diese gezielt einsetzen und weiterentwickeln. Erst dann entsteht eine Win-Win-Situation für alle Seiten.

Eine Frau antwortete auf unsere Frage: „Heike Mahmoud, Berlin Convention Bureau, sie verkörpert für mich die Karrierefrau des 21. Jahrhunderts. Was macht diese aus?
Wissenshungrig sein und bleiben, neugierig, motiviert, lösungsorientiert sein, auch wenn die Herausforderung noch so groß erscheint! Die Meetingindustrie ist ein People-Business. Das darf trotz Digitalisierung nicht verloren gehen. Und Offenheit für unsere Welt und der Anspruch, jeden Tag einen positiven Beitrag zu leisten, der die Welt ein Stück besser macht... 

The answers to the question "Which three factors (…) do you think most strongly influence (positive or negative) a woman´s ability to progress in her career" show that the respondents do not believe skills and abilities are decisive. A large majority of 58.61% believes that "Career breaks due to maternity leave" are the greatest handicap. Second, with a large margin, was "Her confidence and willingness to ask for promotion" (50.78%) as well as "Her attitude and strength of mind" (48,87%). Only then comes "Her skills and abilities" with 40.00%. "Her professional contacts" was chosen by 32.52%, "Lack of time to socialize with co-workers / bosses because of family commitment" by 24.87% astride with "Institutional discrimination (sexism)" (24.70%). Males-only networks are an obstacle to equal treatment. "Women don't have any great chance of being appointed to a single- gender (male) board of directors", is the testimonial posted by one woman. Several answers comment on the lack of self-esteem and again refer to the conflict between family and career. "Because family and management responsibility are frequently still incompatible, many women are forced to make a choice and jump off the career track."

It's only logical then that 54.91% state that there was or will be a point of time at which they had to or will have to make a choice between family and career; 38.36% saw no such need. In terms of changes to compatibility of family and personal career in the past ten years, 42.94% see "some changes", 18.64% see "major changes" and 2.45% "very major changes". However, 5.27% have not perceived any changes, 14.69% see only very minor changes and 16.01% insignificant changes.

On a positive note, approximately 75% answered the question "Does your partner support / encourage your career ambitions?" with "strongly" or "very strongly".
64.68% of the women living in a partnership equally share responsibility for housework. 32.01% do the housework alone, 3.31% have a partner in charge of keeping house. More traditional role allocations apply to responsibility for childcare: 14.06% stated "entirely my responsibility", 32.13% "almost entirely my responsibility" and 20.08% said "to a large extent my responsibility". However, a remarkable 29.72% disclosed that "both equally share responsibility".

Editors' annotation: tw tagungswirtschaft, m+a report and Imex express their sincere thanks to all participating women. The magnitude of answers and comment to the questions fills 75 pages in font size 8 (very small), and we will not be able to publicize all of these. We consider the responses to the survey "Women in the meeting and event industry" to be the base of our commitment and mandate, and we want to uphold our continued focus on this important issue. KERSTIN WÜNSCH

A big th@nk you to all supporting organisations:

AIPC, International Association of Convention Centres +++ AWE, Association for Women in Events +++ Biztravel +++ DMAI, Destination Marketing Association International +++ ECM, European Cities Marketing +++ EVVC, Europäischer Verband der Veranstaltungs-Centren +++ Kommunikationsverband FAMAB +++ ILEA, International Live Events Association +++ MPI, Meeting Professionals International +++ PCMA, Professional Convention Management Association +++ Site, Society for Incentive Travel Excellence +++ Studieninstitut +++ tp tagungsplaner +++ UFI, Global Association of the Exhibition Industry +++ +++

„Women in Europe should be involved“

Association For Women In Events (AWE)

Carrie Abernathy, President and Co-Founder of the Association for Women in Events (AWE).PHOTO: AWE
Carrie Abernathy, President and Co-Founder of the Association for Women in Events (AWE).
Two years ago five women founded the “Association for Women in Events” (AWE) in Washington D.C.. They wanted the vision of the organization to be centered around a central inclusive place for women to find resources, mentorship, and career guidance in the events industry. “We realized that women- centric resources weren't as easy to access in the industry, and that women needed a safe community with resources, mentors and sponsors who help elevate them in their professional pursuits”, explains President and Co-Founder Carrie Abernathy. Since AWE announced its opening last April it received interest from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Canada and beyond. “It was truly overwhelming”, remembers Abernathy. The AWE is “open for business” as a member organization and looking for global members and chapters. In its second year of membership, AWE has a few hundred members from ten countries. Carrie Abernathy: “Our conversation is even larger, with being able to reach over 50,000 ears every month through email, social media and PR efforts.” She adds: “We have heard from women all over the world! Women in Europe should be involved because we, as women, all experience the same unique challenges.” After all AWE is a 
virtual and global organization
, run by the needs of its members. Last year it has offered a number of webinars and coaching program. AWE welcomes both men and women to join the movement.


Frage: Wenn Sie an Frauen in Führungspositionen in der Eventbranche denken: Welcher Name kommt Ihnen in den Sinn? 183 Namen fallen, manche mehrfach; nach Vornamen sortiert.

Airy Garigosa
Alessia Mora Donini
Alexandra Kaszay
Amanda Barnes
Amanda Zahner
Amy Spatrisano
Andrea Michaels
Angela Ahrendts
Angie Pfifer
Angie Robinson
Anja Deilmann
Anja Osswald
Anke Michels
Anna Wintour
Annamaria Ruffini
Anne-Marie Steigenberger
Ariane Deguele
Barbara Cominelli
Barbara Jamison
Batya Brighman
Bea Nöhre
Beth Comstock
Bettina Bunge
Bettina Marwinsky
Brigitte Nussbaum
Britta Wirtz
Carina Bauer
Carla Hargrove McGill
Carola Schwennsen
Carole McKellar
Carole Tahar
Caroline von Kretschmann
Carrie Abernathy
Carrie Fenerac
Cathy Breden
Charlotte St. Martin
Christiane Appel
Christie Hicks
Christine Duffy
Christy Lamagna
Cindy D'Aoust
Claudia Delius-Fisher
Cornelia Jung
Cornelia Zanger
Dagmar Zechmann
Dahlia El Gazzar
Debbie Farnum
Deborah Sexton
Deliane Träber
Denise Dornfeld
Doreen Biskup
Elfie Adler
Emma Aru
Fay Beauchine
Fay Sharpe
Fiona Pelham
Francoise Houdebine
Gabriele Schulze
Ginny Rometty
Gisela Hank-Haase
Grace Hopper
Gunda Stickan
Heike Mahmoud
Heike Schlimbach
Herta Krausmann
Ilona Jarabek
Inge Hanser
Innegrit Volkhardt
Iris Jeglitza-Moshage
Isabel Bardinet
Ivana Magátová
Jacqi Kavanagh
Jane Longhurst
Jane Risby Rose
Jane Schuldt
Janet Sperstad
Janet Traphagen
Jasmin Taylor
Jennifer Jenkins
Jennifer Patino
Joan Eisenholdt
Johanna Hamma
Joni Peru
Josephine von Brühl
Judy Lane
Julia Smith
Jutta Heinrich
Jutta Kirberg
Karen Bollinger
Karola Schwennsen
Katharina C. Hamma
Kati Quigley
Kerrin Macphie
Kerstin Renken
Kerstin Wünsch
Kitty Ratcliffe
Kristina Wulf
Laura Biggs
Lindsey Ueberroth
Liz Jackson
Lois Jacobs
Madeleine Marx
Margaret Pederson
Margie Sitton
Marie be Lallemand
Marilyn Carlson Nelson
Marion Spieth
Mariska Kesteloo
Marley Majcher
Mary Larkin
Mary McGregor
Mary Pat Heftman
Megan Archambeault
Megan Tanel
Meike Finkelnburg
Melissa Ooi
Melissa Van Dyke
Michaela Schedlbauer-
Monica Parker
Monika Dech
Nancy DeBrosse
Nancy Walsh
Nancy Zavada
Nicky McGrane
Nicola Mendelsohn
Nikki Leonadakis
Nina Freysen-Pretorius
Pamela Strug
Pat Durocher
Patricia de Bont
Patrizia Boungiorno
Patti Shock
Petra Haarburger
Petra Hedorfer
Petra Stolba
Petra Westphal
Petra Wolf
Rachel Wimberly
Renate Danler
Renate Dobler
Rhea Stagner
Rhonda Brewer
Roslyn McLeod
Rowena Arzt
Sabine Clausecker
Sabine Loos
Sabine Stelker
Sallie Coventry
Sally Shankland
Sandra Grana
Sandra Orth
Sara Ost
Saskia Soete
Shannon Scherer
Sheryl Sandberg
Simone Dietz
Steffi Czerny
Stephanie Glanzer
Sue Hershkowitz-Coore
Susan Katz
Susan Robertson
Susan Sarfati
Susanne Baumann-Söllner
Susanne Illerhaus
Susanne Klatten
Suzette Eaddy
Tahira Endean
Tammy Routh
Tara Thomas
Terri Breining
Tina Brack
Tina Weede
Toni Griggs
Ulla Kopp
Ulrike Köppel
Ulrike von Arnold
Ursula Paschke
Uta Goretzky
Ute-Desiree Hagedorn
Valerie Levasseur
Viola Klein
Yma Sherry
Yvonne Coulin