Pro Tips for Planning Women's Events

"We are linked not ranked." - Gloria Steinem

Hosting women’s events helps companies retain female employees, acquire new talent, make new business connections, and increase female employee morale and career development.

Making Equality The New Normal

Women need events where they can access role models, support one another, and hear success stories specific to women. There are many things we can do to make events more women-friendly in addition to hosting women-focused conferences:

  • Consider setting a goal to have 50% speakers and 50% of your attendees be female

  • Consider the marketing and graphics you’re using on your event site. Is there good diversity and inclusion represented?

  • Consider offering travel grants or subsidized tickets to under-represented groups like women to encourage them to attend.

A great way to create a baseline of diversity within your event is by adding questions to your event registration form. Take into account cultural sensitives and labor law based on your the location of your event. Doing so will help you capture needed information.

How do you plan a women’s only event properly?

There is a lot of debate around whether women-only events perpetuate segregation or benefit females. Personally, I feel the offer a valuable experience for attendees to safely share and connect with others like them, make career connections, get inspired, and speak openly.

When planning women’s only events, you should consider whether you are making the event exclusive to women, or women-centric, allowing males allies to attend (and hopefully learn how to support women).

Ask yourself questions around what the goals of your event are which will help guide you to a decision. Some other best practices around hosting women’s events are listed below:

  • Add a mother’s room so that nursing mother’s can attend your conference.

  • Consider the hours of your conference and adjust them to accommodate pick up / drop off times for parents and/or offer childcare or a childcare stipend.

  • Offer pronoun stickers she/her, he/him, they/them, ze/hir, and blank field for people to self-identify.

Choose your colors and vendors mindfully

For a women leadership summit I planned, we were careful to select all women-owned businesses as our vendors and were also mindful not to lean into gendered stereotypes (like focusing on shopping, manicures, and pink/purple).

  • We featured women-owned businesses in a market place where we served up confections, coffee and healthy treats throughout the day.

  • Our production agency, videographer and photographer were all female and our female musicians even complimented us that we’d hired female sound technicians!

  • Without leaning into stereotypes, we featured content relevant to women like a VR experience that featured women in different industries including America Ferrera and other inspiring and diverse females.

  • We created networking activities like postcards featuring work by female artists that attendees could post around the room with inspiring messages, or mail to someone (postage and adorable mailbox provided by us)

Making Room At The Table For Everyone

In industries that skew heavily male, the male to female participant ratio is often unbalanced and the topics addressed can make women feel excluded from the conversation.

By tailoring an event to a group with shared experiences, attendees can discuss and gain advice without judgement – addressing challenges women face in their respective industries.