By Annie Pettit
A strange thing happened on the way to filling speaker spots for the New Speaker track of the IIeX Europe conference. The spots were filled by 8 women and 4 men, a female-focused ratio that is highly unusual in the marketing research industry, except within the fields of qualitative research and research with children. Are you curious to know how that happened?
Well, before I get to that, first think about how tough the recruit was. Dear people who have never presented at a conference before, please offer to stand in front of a large audience of strangers and bare your soul to them. Please? Pretty please? Yes, the target group was people who’ve never spoken at a conference before and, somehow, the number of submissions exceeded the number of speaking slots available!
There were two main components contributing to this ratio, the first being how I sought speakers. I relied on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ (seriously!), and my blog to get the message out there. I posted on my personal pages as well as on the main page of every marketing research, data science, data visualization, and tech group I could find. ALL NEW RESEARCH SPEAKERS WELCOME! On top of that, I sought out every social media group dedicated to women or minorities in marketing research, data science, data visualization, and tech group I could find, groups where the members were fully supportive and encouraging of each other. That was step one. It took a heck of a lot of time.
The second main component was the method of selection. Obviously, the first requirement was that submissions would only qualify if the person had never spoken at a conference before. Strangely, a large chunk of submissions had to be disqualified after I performed a 30 second internet search and saw pictures of them speaking and multiple conference programs listing their names. With more than seventy-five percent of these cases being men, this result illustrated the adage that men are more likely to apply for something even if they don’t meet the criteria. Two other important criteria used were whether the submitter was in a role that would normally be passed over for a speaking slot (e.g., junior roles, support roles) and how relevant the submission was to the IIeX program, one that focuses on innovation and disruptive methods in marketing research.
With these criteria in hand, the result is a set of speakers you’ve never heard before! The New Research Speakers Club mentors and I know you will enjoy learning unique insights from them and we look forward to seeing you at the New Speakers track of IIeX Europe!