Last week, I hosted a twitter chat on Manels on Women Speakers created by Elsa Marie, Esther Ngumbi, Monica Jasuja. Manels stands for Men Only Panels. I put up a poll to which most people responded that Manels are dominant and even statistics say the same thing yet not much is being done with regards to this global problem
Photo: Matt Botsford on Unsplash
Women make up 50% of the population. Yet, panels are highly unrepresentative and exclusion of women in decision- making strengthen patriarchy to the point that it sends out the message that women don’t have anything to say, and are just sidekicks in the society or their voices aren’t good enough which is a fallacy. Some people argue that it’s impossible to find good women and even next to impossible to find women for STEM panels, which is also another myth. Women have achieved so much in all fields. We need to have the determination to find women to speak at events, there are female role-models everywhere, we just need to acknowledge them. I don’t think there is a shortage of talented, successful and inspiring women.
Underrepresentation of women in mixed panels is another issue, and Greg Martin, who has presented an ingenious statistical probability analysis found that that it’s improbable that a speakers’ lineup including one woman and 19 men could be random. Added to that, in mixed panels, sometimes women are just there as trophies, just to fill the so called reserved female quota and it’s the men who have absolute control over the conversation, without mentioning that people will prefer to listen to men experts than female experts especially in STEM.
It’s also crucial to mention that both genders are responsible for this Manel crisis, men need to say no to Manels, while women need to say yes and speak up. Both men and genders should take the pledge to say no to Manels and it’s time for big conference organizers to include women experts and give them the same importance they would do for men. It’s not hard to give women the same opportunities and you can also easily find and nominate someone (with consent) into this database.
I also conducted a poll asking people if the youth can help in busting Manels and out of all people who voted, 100% of them said yes! (You)th can educate people and focus on the need for more mixed panels and be sure to say no to Manels and stop this culture right here. We are supposed to go forward towards gender equality but it’s sad that in 2017, we have a new word, ‘Manels’ that enforces gender stereotypes.
Yeshna Dindoyal is a 19-year-old Youth Representative, UNICEF Voices of Youth blogger and a UNICEF climate digital Mapper. She is an advocate for gender equality, climate change, mental health, bullying, education and works to empower youth.She wants to make the world a better place, and leave a mark. She is currently a law student and one fun fact about her is that she is a big Harry Potter fan. She is a work in progress.