Breaking the Gender Gap in Professional Speaking: Supporting Female Speakers All Year Not Just on International Women’s Day

We should be celebrating female speakers all year long not just on International Women’s Day

“Allison, it’s because you’re a woman,” he said.

“What? You’ve got to be kidding me – that’s the reason I’m not getting paid as much and as often to speak? Gender is an issue in 2015?”

The man who said that was a well-regarded, grand-daddy of the professional speaking industry. He explained that men are perceived as being more credible and confident on stage and their deeper voice makes men preferable to listen to.

[I’m calling bullsh*t]

Fast forward to 2019 and I received a phone call from the executive director of a large, public-facing organization.

“Allison, we’d love to have you speak at our event!”

“Wonderful! For that sized audience in that location, my speaking fee is $xx,000 plus travel.”

“I apologize, I know you’re a professional speaker, but we don’t have a budget to pay you any more than a small honorarium.”

“Ah, that’s too bad. I’m surprised [male-speaker-name] is working for free. That’s not typical.”

“Oh, he’s not. We paid him full fee. When we printed the agenda the committee realized we don’t have a woman on the agenda so I need to have someone wave the female flag for us. It’s just to be politically correct, and there’s no budget for that.”

I declined. Another woman said yes.

These are two stories – of way too many – that I’ve experienced as a professional speaker.

I’m not sure if it’s about negotiation, acceptance, or systemic in this sort of a situation – I don’t know what the discrepancies are between male / female divide when it comes to speaking in 2023 – I know my fees and I hold firm!

I truly believe that we are rounding a corner. Some of the most booked and talented, well-respected speakers on the circuit are WOMEN!!

The needle has moved – and there’s a long way to go – but let’s not forget there is still a disparity across most industries.

I believe a high tide raises all ships! That’s why I continue to celebrate and encourage incredible female speakers I’ve been privileged to know – all year long – not just on IWD!

#internationalwomansday #iwd2023

Allison Graham headshot smiling leaning against a grey wall, blue cardigan and white top

Welcome! I'm Allison Graham

Let’s face it – life is tough enough without having behaviour patterns that make life harder than it needs to be! 

That’s why I’m obsessed with finding ways to make the human experience easier by offering strategies for problem solving, dealing with chronic pain, leveraging empowering stress, and stopping patterns that create destructive stress. 

I hope you find huge value in my content. To go deeper please check out my online courses, coaching, and keynote speeches