Navigating Male-Dominated Sectors of the Events Industry 

December 16, 2021

Angela Zilm

As an Account Director at Impact XM, Angela Zilm has led new business in the aviation and aerospace industry and had a strong foothold working with clients in luxury retail with one of the top consumer brands. She brings more than 12 years of experience collaborating with clients and managing their experiential marketing and event programs.

No matter the level of education, years of industry experience or how well they articulate themselves, women need to continue carving their path in the exhibit and events world. I’ve been in this industry for over 15 years, travelled to dozens of cities, worked for multiple organizations (large and small) and there is still an inequality amongst men and women.  

In most companies in this sector, female VPs only represent 20-30%, and even less are CEOs.  Unfortunately, this stems from the top, and most of the individuals who started the companies were project managers, installers or contractors, who 30-plus years ago were all males. How do women stand out and ensure that their voices are heard? They need to be their own advocates, essentially, and they need to work harder and smarter and speak louder if they want things to change! 

Anything you can do, I can do better.

A little anecdote to start this off focuses on a senior project manager who I had the pleasure of working with and admire to this day. When she started with the company, her title was project manager. Her education and experience were impressive to say the least: operations manager, industrial and product designer, university educated and studio manager. Her attention to detail and efficient communication surpassed that of her male counterparts, and yet with all her knowledge and expertise, she was being paid less.  

Sure, they had more industry experience, albeit minimal, their communication style was often unprofessional, they were rougher around the edges and their attention to detail was not as refined. After three years of proving herself, she was promoted the senior project manager by working harder and better than those around her. She earned a new title, more money and more job flexibility. She had to champion for equal acknowledgement through her advanced efforts, but in the end it paid off. This was a few years ago. Now, due to the work of that senior project manager and countless other women, I’m encouraged to do the same.

Ask for what you want more than once.

Women need to speak up and ask for what they want. I believe that once a year it is critical to do a self check-in, determine what your contributions have been or what strides you’ve made over the past year that add value to the organization. Asking for a raise at the end of every year is 100% warranted, but unfortunately, women oftentimes do not ask for a raise as frequently as men.  

Women need to check their own careers to ensure they are viewed as an asset to the organization. They need to evaluate their contributions and remind themselves and their direct reports that the events they’ve managed, the projects they’ve worked on or the meetings they’ve led have shown an improvement year over year. Include client accolades and emails that highlight these efforts when asking for a raise. Don’t be shy; most men never are.  

Own your voice.

I recently read a study on voice pitch that revealed that the way male CEOs sound, specifically their “vocal masculinity,” is directly correlated to their level of pay. Boards of directors tend to favor deeper sounding voices, which equates to higher salaries and perceived strength. That’s frustrating for a lot of women because what are your options? Deepen your voice à la former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes? Not exactlywe all know how that story ended.  

Women need to brag more about their accomplishments, assert themselves and lead the conversation with the intention that they are the only ones in the room. What I’ve learned from interviews with colleagues and conversations with friends is that it is okay to talk about yourself and how amazing you are. My only tip is ensuring you read the room and keep an eye on the time, but other than that, go for it and always speak with confidence.  


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Partner Voices
Dallas already boasts 35,000 hotel rooms, award-winning global cuisine, and a walkable downtown. But we are just getting started. Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce that the city of Dallas is doubling down with a massive new convention center and entertainment district. Featuring 800,000 square feet of exhibit area, 260,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and 170,000 square feet of ballroom. The center will connect business travelers with dining and shopping options in the popular Cedars District means more places to get down to business, and even more ways to unwind. “Dallas is already a great meetings and conventions destination, with the accessibility of two major airports, affordable labor, and an outstanding hotel product,” said D. Bradley Kent, Visit Dallas senior vice president and chief sales officer. “The new center and Convention Center District will enhance Dallas’ competitive position and are exactly what our customers’ need and have been asking for." What’s New – AT&T Discovery District Located in the heart of Downtown Dallas, this new district on the AT&T corporate campus is tailor-made for groups of all sizes. It boasts a multi-sensory experience, including outdoor event space, the AT&T Theater, and multiple dining outlets including JAXON Beer Garden and The Exchange, a bustling food hall. Hotels Coming Soon Names like the JW Marriott (Downtown), lnterContinental Dallas (Uptown), and Hotel Swexan (Uptown) are adding luxury amenities and bountiful event spaces. The projects will debut in 2023 and beyond. JW Marriott This new, 15-story, 283-room hotel will open in the heart of the city’s downtown Arts District this year. The property features a 25,000-square-foot grand ballroom, as well as a spa, restaurant, lobby bar, fitness center, and a rooftop pool deck and bar. InterContinental Dallas  Located in Cityplace Tower in Uptown, InterContinental Dallas will feature sweeping panoramic views of the Dallas skyline. Guests will enjoy spacious, high-end rooms and amenities, including more than 21,000 square feet of event space.   Hotel Swexan Hotel Swexan, a new, 22-story luxury property, is rising in Uptown’s Harwood District and will make its mark on the Dallas skyline. Opening this year, it is a sculptural building with cantilevered upper floors, as well as a 75-foot rooftop infinity-edge swimming pool and a hidden underground lounge.