Innovation Women: Promoting gender-balanced speaker panels at trade shows, conferences and events. Help more women get invited to speak and share their expertise.
Too many conferences, seminars, meetups and other events look like this (below) …especially in the technical and entrepreneurial space. They still have all (or mostly) male panels, speakers and keynotes. The perspective is too one dimensional.
Event producers and managers have trouble finding good female speakers beyond a few regulars. Event managers often look at other events to find good speakers. We keep hearing the same stories.
Many entrepreneurial and technical women aren’t getting the visibility they need to grow their companies (and careers) because they aren’t on the speaking “circuit”. Everything from the number of women on boards and in senior management roles could be impacted if we could all look up and see great women speakers at events. “Visibility = opportunity.”
The Innovation Women Solution: An online speakers bureau
InnovationWomen.com is an online speakers bureau designed to facilitate speaking engagements for entrepreneurial and technical women. Anyone organizing an event can search our data base for entrepreneurial and technical women to speak at their event in order to find a good match for their topic. This helps them create a more balanced event.
Innovation Women also provides a framework for entrepreneurial and technical women (at all levels of the organization) to position themselves for speaking opportunities. Our questions (like “Tell us your origin story”) help women share their story and expertise. Our database will include both people who get paid to speak as well as people who speak primarily for visibility. (Most other speakers bureaus work only with speakers who get paid to speak.)
Below is a mockup of an Innovation Women profile page:
Technical and entrepreneurial women (or their marketing and PR departments) will create profiles on our website. The profiles will contain information on their background, expertise and topics they can address as a speaker. Profiles will also contain sample slides and videos, showcasing the speaker.
Event managers and organizers will create their own accounts, register their events and be able to search our database based on location, event date, type of event, subject and type of speaker.
Our speakers are protected from spam as well. Only registered event managers can send invitations to the speakers. Both speakers and event organizers will get rated.
Other content will include a directory of women and business organizations, and articles on speaking, conferences and events. Our own organization will utilize the site to identify speakers for our events.
Know a great women entrepreneur or technical person? Nominate her for Innovation Women!
Where we are today:
Over the past five and a half years, we’ve helped local Boston startups launch more than 700 new products through our Innovation Nights website and events. We have more than 10,000 subscribers to our weekly newsletter. This newsletter is heavily comprised of local Boston area events so we have great connections to Boston area event managers AND entrepreneurs, both male and female. We are currently expanding this model into all the New England states. Innovation Nights is providing us with more than just connections and a list. We also have a basic website architecture that will form the basis for Innovation Women. We already own the website domain where you can sign up to receive our newsletter.
- We need to build out the new Innovation Women website
- We need to implement ecommerce (we want Innovation Women to cover its own expenses and allow us to generate funds to be used to support it.)
- We need to make the website look as sharp as the design
- We need a marketing budget to help expand the reach of Innovation Women
Most of the budget will be dedicated to the website – design and development work as well as content creation and ongoing support. We will need the website concept, people paying for profiles, to support ongoing marketing. We’re used to doing things on a shoestring; the first Innovation Nights event had a budget of $28.95.
Why Back Innovation Women:
While women have made great strides in business, they still represent a tiny fraction of the population employed at the senior most levels in the business world. 85 percent of the companies that get venture capital funding have NO women on their senior management team. There has been little to no increase for women on boards in corporate America. Women held only 16.9% of board seats in 2013.
Speaking engagements and more visibility is one path to success in these and other areas. The more women executives and technical women get up and speak, the more likely they are to be given a chance to participate in other conversations.
It has been shown that gender diversity leads to a higher profit. Companies with the most women board directors outperformed companies with the least number of female directors on return on equity by 53 percent. On average, companies with more women board directors get 42 percent more return on sales than companies with fewer women directors. Companies with more women board directors outperform companies with fewer women directors’ return on invested capital by 66 percent. Some companies have no or few women on their board. Our goal is to help make these stats a thing of the past.
We all benefit as well from a more diverse set of speakers. We go to events and conferences to learn and make new connections. We all learn more if more perspectives are shared. If you are part of a corporation, you should support the opportunity to get more women on panels and on speaking engagements and have your company recognized as an organization that supports women in leadership positions. For individuals, this is a great way to support technical and entrepreneurial women, or, get visibility for your own efforts.
Innovation Women is a new project by the team at Innovation Nights.
Innovation Nights is a new product launch party and showcase. Every month the Innovation Nights community supports the launch of (at least) ten new products, using social media to help spread the word. This community has helped to launch more than 700 new products in the Boston region and is expanding into other communities as well.
Bobbie Carlton is one of the founders of Innovation Nights. A long time fixture in the Boston area marketing and PR community, she worked with a number of local PR and marketing agencies, as well as heading corporate PR for Cognos and Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC.) In 2006, she jumped into the start-up space, joining the team at B*Tween Productions, home of the Beacon Street Girls. Hooked on startups and entrepreneurship, she founded both Innovation Nights and Carlton PR & Marketing, both dedicated to supporting the visibility efforts of small companies and start ups.
Risks and challenges
As with all Kickstarter projects, there is a risk of delay in delivering some of the rewards, especially around development of a website (which always seems to take longer than anticipated) but because we have the basic architecture already, we feel confident in our ability to do this.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)