TED2012 Full Spectrum Shy on Gender Parity (Again!)

TED 2012_logoTED2012 kicked off on February 27, and runs for four fantastic days.

TEDsters around the world are glued to their #TED2012 livestreams (Yay TED Live!), #Twitter streams, and the TED 2012 website, hanging off of every word, thirsty for the latest in ideas, imagination and innovation.

I myself, a long-time TED fan and associate, and now a TEDLiver, am among them. There are at least a thousand reasons I love TED, and I love that I get to experience this year's conference livestream.

Blue In The Face...

About 1,500 lucky ones will be at the conference itself experiencing the time of their lives. Having twice attended TEDGlobal, as well as several TEDx events around the world in person, I know just how magically overwhelming and energizing TED and TEDx can be.

As usual, the speaker TED speaker line-up is extraordinary. Also as usual (and sadly), it is woefully gender imbalanced.

Only 17 of the 58 speakers / performers (not counting the Mama Foundation Gospel for Teens), are women. That's about 30 per cent. Not good enough. Especially for a conference the theme of which is, ironically, "Full Spectrum."

Susan pink banglesI've blogged myself blue in the face about gender parity at TED for the past two years (irrefutable proof in the pic at right =>>       and in the links at the end of this post), seemingly to no avail; I also made it the subject of my own talk at TEDxAjman last spring.

I've joined others in efforts such as SheShouldTalkAtTED, which started out strong, but appears to have lost steam.


...And A Voice In The Wilderness?

So here I am again, a mostly lone voice in the wilderness that lies on the fringes of TEDdom. Why do I keep speaking up and speaking out? Because I continue to feel that one of the best ways of making positive change in the world is to make the voice of women more widely and more well heard. It's really that simple.

I just don't get why the male speakers continue to outnumber the female speakers by a factor of three to one on the main TED stages as well as at most TEDx events.

The recent success of the TEDxWomen conference, at which 34 of the stunning line-up of 39 speakers were women, clearly demonstrates that there definitely are women of the right caliber available and ready to speak at TED and TEDx events.

As I have said countless times before, women are not a special interest group, we are half the human race. This sentiment was echoed by author and journalist Gayle Lemmon in her TEDxWomen talk when she said:

“This is not about doing good.  This is about global growth and global employment.  It is about how we invest and it’s about how we see women, and women can no longer be both half the population and a special interest group.”

Expand The Spectrum...

Watching the 17 amazing TED women speak and perform at TED 2012 (thanks again to TEDLive), will be a highlight of the conference for me, and for tens of thousands of women around the world who will see the TED women speakers as the amazing role models they are.

But 17 female speakers (brilliant though they will undoubtedly be), represents less than one third of the complement of speakers at the conference. 

Full spectrum TED? I don't think so!

Nevertheless, I remain optimistic that one day the half of the human race of which I am a part will be equally represented at TED and TEDx events, as well as on wold stages everywhere and in every aspect of human endeavor.

It's time the voice of women worldwide was more clearly heard.

Without us, the spectrum is missing half its light...


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