On the show floor at IMEX America, more than 100 women (and supportive men!) joined the Event Tech Tribe at their booth to celebrate Women in Events. The event was spearheaded by Leonora Valvo, Founder/CEO of Swoogo and pioneer of the Event Tech Tribe, and entrepreneur Marie-Claire Andrews, Director of Operations for the Tribe and previously CEO of event app company, ShowGizmo.
Co-hosted with IMEX and the Association for Women in Events (AWE), the idea was to create a space in the noisy show for women to connect and be inspired by each other as well as forging new relationships that could yield positive results in the future.
“I truly believe every woman in our industry, as they climb higher in the ranks, should be looking about her to reach down and pull up the next wave of female leaders”, said Leonora, who was recently named in the Top 25 Women in the Meetings industry. “I scan the industry and see that women make up the bulk of employees, but there’s a disproportionate amount of men holding the highest level exec and leadership positions, and that’s got to change”, she adds.
A show of hands at the event proved this to be true; less than 10% confessed to being managers or executives in their respective organisations. And even more alarming to the entrepreneurial Event Tech Tribe team, only a scattering of women who’d taken the risk to strike out and start up a company. “We’re still adding to the Event Tech Tribe portfolio of best-in-craft event technologies”, said Marie-Claire “and I’d love for the next one to be women-led as we’re only at 1/3rd right now!”
It’s not for the lack of promoting, all the women in the Tribe are passionate advocates for women in the events industry; Marie-Claire serves as a Board member for AWE and Allison Magyar, CEO and Founder of Hubb and a two-time Inc.5000 winner, actively mentors several women entrepreneurs in Portland, Oregon, her company’s home base. Yet of the fifteen companies that have approached the Tribe to be considered, only one was woman-led.
“I’ve seen this in the investment community and of course the technology industry too,” Leonora says - and as the original founder of etouches leading several rounds of growth capital, and an active angel investor she’s got the experience to back these statements up. “But it’s stark and shocking in the event tech space - I can name the women entrepreneurs on two hands” she adds sadly.
But they’re not giving up - the Association for Women in Events is a strong voice in the community now, encouraging entrepreneurs and employees to assist women to achieve their full potential, and the Tribe leaders hope events like these will act as inspiration for women out there considering their next move, and perhaps make it a founding one.