Brussels panels: Piloting a Pledge

Just over one month into launching our campaign to end all-male panels in Brussels, something caught our attention. The European Commission’s technology and communications policy unit (DG Connect) decided to enforce a pledge from April to say “no” to all-male panels. As with all great ideas, the pledge is composed of three main points:1. DG Connect will always include at least two women speakers at events it organises2. DG Connect will no longer accept invitations to speak on all-male panels or at all-male conferences organised by outside stakeholders.

3. If DG Connect staff speak at events outside the EU or if the organiser is not a European affiliate (for example an embassy or a company headquartered outside the EU), we will try to ensure better representation for women, but we obviously can’t guarantee it.

You can find the pledge in full and more information on this pilot project here.

Of course, following this pledge we were keen to see how the digital sector would perform during our Monitoring Month.

According to our findings women made up 32.95% of speakers on the 53 panels we looked at in the digital industry. That’s almost 10% more than the average female representation of around 25% from events studied during Monitoring Month.
ICT sector Monitoring Month 2015

ICT sector Monitoring Month 2015

The industry had one equal panel, according to our findings. That panel took place at the European Commission’s Digital Assembly, showing the impact of DG Connect’s pilot project. The event featured no all-male panels.

At this event four of thirteen panel debates had more women than men – half of the panels where this happened in the sector over the course of Monitoring Month.

In a meeting with DG Connect following Monitoring Month, we learnt more about the commission department’s experience of implementing its pledge.

The common difficulty encountered is that most panels include five speakers and it’s impossible to have an equal balance in that number.

We’re really encouraged by the work done in parts of the European Commission to tackle the all-male panel problem in Brussels and we’re really happy to have DG Connect’s support for our initiative. There’s always more to be done – but that’s why we’re here!

The full Monitoring Month 2015 report

Click here to read more about our July meeting with DG Connect.

Read a broad analysis of our Monitoring Month results here.