Matt Ipcar

Executive Creative Director

October 15, 2018

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Why We Won’t Speak on All-Male Panels

While you might not be able to always tell from current events in 2018 A.D., women’s voices matter just as much as men’s — and in some cases, more. It’s been about 100 years since the right of women to vote in the US and UK was officially recognized, and yet many intellectual and creative arenas are still dominated by men — including too many conference panels, on which people from agencies and organizations like ours tend to speak.

We can’t snap our fingers and dismantle the patriarchy, but we can take strides to make changes in the areas we can control.  One such area includes the panels that Blue State Digital staff choose to speak on and attend.

It may or may not surprise you, but many speaking panels at creative conferences are still entirely or mostly comprised of male voices. We’ve encouraged ourselves and others in the past to only participate in conferences where at least 20% of the speakers are women. We’ve made an effort to promote the voices of BSD women, but we want to take it a step farther. So moving forward, BSD will only participate on panels that meet this standard.

So here’s our new, ultra-simple policy:

  1. Starting now, BSDers will not join panels where all of the experts on the panel are men.
  2. We’re happy to help identify another female expert or panel participant located nearby.

That’s it.

We know that the people who have invited us to join these male-dominated panels have meant well and would never intend to perpetuate an intellectual hegemony of men. I’ve spoken on all-male panels before, and I regret the cases where I didn’t say anything to the organizers about it. But that’s how these things persist — through inertia. We’re hoping that, like other policies we’ve implemented, this admittedly very small step can encourage additional steps by ourselves and others.

Plus, while we fight for gender equity, giving the spotlight to new faces and voices might just give us all some fresh ideas, too.


You can sign GenderAvenger’s pledge not to participate in all-male panels here.

Have other thoughts on how the creative space can become more equitable and welcoming? We’re all ears — get in touch with us.