IAEE Set to Debut Women's Leadership Forum May 30 in D.C.

April 14, 2013

For the very first time May 30 in Washington, D.C., the International Association of Exhibitions and Events will host the Women’s Leadership Forum at the Fairmont Hotel in Georgetown.

Cathy Breden, IAEE’s COO, said the decision to launch the event had been in the works for the past few years and was moved forward when IAEE Past-chair Doreen Biela appointed a task force to explore the feasibility of a program geared toward female professionals in the industry.

A survey was sent out to IAEE’s female members in September last year, and “the response clearly indicated that a program would be valued and appreciated,” Breden added.

One of the challenges women face, not just in the trade show industry, but also in the overall job sector, is salaries still lag behind men’s in a comparable position.

In addition, there are fewer women in leadership roles.

“Our studies revealed that 48 percent of IAEE’s membership is female, yet only 24 percent hold higher-level positions,” Breden said.

She added, “Our membership who attend our annual conference, the number jumps to 60 percent, showing that women are committed to professional development, further enforcing our desire to offer specialized training beyond the normal skills sets necessary for success within their current job function.”

The forum will focus on these issues and more, featuring a speaker lineup that includes Betsy Myers, who, amongst several other high-profile positions, previously was senior adviser to Barack Obama’s Presidential Campaign.

A panel discussion will be led by Hattie Hill - who has 30 years’ experience as a professional businesswoman, author, professional speaker and international management consultant - with three trade show female leaders on how they reached the top, how they balance their work life and personal life and how they overcame the challenges of reaching the top.

The panelists include Mary Catherine Sexton, who has been with Global Experience Specialists since November of 2001 and currently is executive vice president of Human Resources and Labor Relations; Mary Dolaher, CEO of IDG World Expo; and Christine Duffy, president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association.

Breden said the speakers and topics were chosen by the Women’s Leadership Task Force, chaired by Stephanie Everett, vice president of events for Clarion Events North America, who worked with staff to identify key needs.

“Staff took all the information and feedback that had been gathered and developed a draft curriculum and template for what the program might look like,” Breden said.

She added, “With the task force’s feedback we were able to identify the type of facilitator we wanted, and we had a short list of women executives we wanted to include in the program. The issues are the same in this industry as they are in others, including work/life balance and the fact that women communicate differently than men, and quite honestly, flat out gender discrimination.”

Speaking of gender, Breden was emphatic that the Women’s Leadership Forum is not just for women.

“This is not an event for women only!” she said. “Certainly, men are welcome. If men want to learn about how to help the females in their organizations rise to a higher level and want to better understand the challenges women believe they face in getting ahead, they are by all means encouraged to come!”

Besides meeting a lot of new people, Breden said she hopes attendees will walk away with an understanding of what their personal brand is and how to use that in the marketplace.

“We want to bring industry women together for motivation, skills training and encouragement to succeed in the industry and build a support community to deal with work/life balances,” she added. “This program will help women with understanding leadership behaviors and how to bring more of these behaviors into their work environment.”

For more information or to register for IAEE’s Women’s Leadership Forum please visit HERE.

The forum is part of an IAEE Collective event May 29-30 that also includes the Marketing and Sales Academies and CEM Learning Program. For more information please visit HERE.

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