Women must wait until 2098 for gender parity at EU policy conferences

EU Panel Watch has found that gender equality at EU policy panels is increasing, although it is a slow process. At the current rate, gender parity will be achieved in 2098.

Victoria Wystepek
Victoria Wystepek NewsMavens, Europe
Women must wait until 2098 for gender parity at EU policy conferences - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

In November 2018, EU Panel Watch monitored 150 conferences, 248 panels, and 1,563 speakers at EU policy conferences in Brussels. Only one third of the speakers were women, and less than 3% were women of color. Gender equality was the only policy topic in which the majority of speakers were women, but these panels failed to adequately involve men in the discussions. 

Head researcher Iva Petkovic explains that “Policy conferences in Brussels cover a wide range of topics, from data protection to renewable energy, but they’re failing to represent the diverse society that’s affected by those policies.” 

The EU Panel Watch found that a majority of event organizers engage in tokenism, which means that organizers include some women on panels to display a superficial image of diversity and inclusion. When women or people of color are invited to be on panels, they are expected to be representative of their entire gender, racial or ethnic group, rather than being a representative in their field of expertise. They believe that some event organizers lack a genuine interest in composing panels which accurately represent the diverse opinions and policy recommendations of the whole European society, not just the white, male society. 

The researchers in the study predict that at the current rate, gender parity for EU policy speakers can be achieved in eighty years. In the meantime, members of the EU Panel Watch recommend that event organizers pledge to never organize “manels” (all-male panels) and to create guidelines for gender and diversity-sensitive management. The EU Panel Watch report also includes resources event organizers can use to find qualified, female professionals to speak on EU policy panels to promote more equal representation.

Details from the story:

  • Women only make up 28% of the more prestigious role of keynote speakers, while women of color make up only 1%.
  • 26% of panels were all-male, while 43% were majority male.
  • 30% of speakers were women when the panel was not about gender equality. This is the same percentage of women who currently hold office in European ministries, parliaments, and regional parliaments.
  • More than 85% of speakers on gender equality were women, while less than 15% were men.
  • The sectors with the highest proportion of women speakers were gender equality and human rights, while the culture and education sector was gender-balanced and where women of color made up almost two-thirds of speakers.
  • The sectors with the lowest proportion of women speakers were telecommunications, transport, agriculture, energy, technology and finance.

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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