"We asked a woman, but she couldn't come" is one of the typical answers the EU Panel Watch team receives when underlining the lack of speaker diversity in panel debates.
EU Panel Watch was born out of frustration about the seemingly endless excuses for the lack of speaker diversity. Today, the team consists of five motivated women – Laurel Henning, Marika Andersen, Mari Eccles, Iva Petkovic and Jason-Loise Graham. Their goal is simple: Use events as arenas for change rather than letting them be the reflection of the status quo. The aim is to challenge the organizers, speakers and audiences. By raising awareness and gathering facts about the diversity of speakers in Brussels, the EU Panel Watch team seeks to trigger change in Europe’s capital and empower a heterogeneous next generation of leaders.
But how to ensure more diverse debates in practice? “Naming and shaming is simple and clear – it works for drawing attention to unbalanced policy debates and saying ‘this isn’t good enough”, says Laurel Henning, co-founder of EU Panel Watch. “We encourage audiences to tweet about panels they attend that do not deliver diversity with respect to gender, age or ethnicity”. EU Panel Watch also provides for campaign material for free to spread the word. Moreover, since 2015, EU panel watch runs once a year the so called Monitoring Month where a team of volunteers attends panel debates, collecting data on the gender and racial breakdown of the speakers. For instance, they found that in 2017, only 33,8 percent of speakers were women and only 11 percent of panels were gender balanced. Most recently, EU Panel watch has also been engaged in organizing workshops facilitating the professional development of women, for example to enhance their speaking skills. Great work for a great cause, Here She Is finds. If you want to learn more about EU Panel Watch click here.
Our call to action: Use the twitter handle @EUPanelWatch at your next panel discussion and comment on the panel diversity - of course positive observations are acknowledged as well! If you see and listen to a woman you particularly like tweet us @here_she_is_!