It’s a phenomenon that is seen in all sorts of situations, from comedy panel shows to government summits and medical congresses. In fact, all-male panels are such a common occurrence they’ve even been given their own name: the manel.
The manel, or its brother the manference, is often a consequence of oversight, rather than a purposeful planning decision. It takes time and effort to ensure a diverse speaker line-up, but broadening the perspectives brought into a discussion creates space for fresh viewpoints and more engaging debates.
Beyond potentially improving the quality of discussions, banishing the manference may also encourage more balanced audience contribution.
A recent study assessing audience participation at a medical conference found that in sessions with male-only chairs, questions were 69% less likely to come from women audience members, compared to sessions with female-only chairs.1 And when women audience members did contribute, on average they spent a significantly less time talking than men.1
When planning events, it’s crucial to make sure there is space for all voices, so everyone has the opportunity to contribute.
This is something we are committed to achieving, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it also makes events more enjoyable for everyone involved, with better conversations, livelier debates and more valuable insights.
When partnering with our clients, we work hard to not only ensure their events have diverse leadership and attendance, but to also remove barriers that may prevent attendees from contributing.
If you want to learn more about how we help our clients to organize inclusive, diverse and dynamic events, please contact Amita Sharma, Vice President, Client Services and member of our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee (Amita.Sharma@asandk.com).
1. Salem V, et al. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2021;S2213-8587(21)00177-7.
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