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SISO Women Survey Reveals Gender Disparity in C-Suite

TSE Staff
March 28, 2017
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Atlanta – On the heels of a successful half-day women’s forum, the Society for Independent Show Organizers’ SISO Women unveiled the results of their survey on gender disparity in the trade show industry during a panel discussion at the SISO CEO Summit on March 28.  Findings revealed a distinct executive level gender imbalance in many trade show-related organizations.

Moderated by Courtney Muller, the committee’s chair and Executive Advisor at Urban Expositions, the panel included: Herve Sedky, Regional President of the Americas at Reed Exhibitions; Lisa Hannant, Group Managing Director of Clarion Events; and Mary Larkin, Executive Vice President of Diversified Communications. 

Multiple industry reports were referenced in a presentation prior to the panel discussion and while the discovery of an executive-level gender imbalance may not be surprising on the surface, there is a bigger discrepancy than many might suspect. A key finding discussed at the session was that female CEOs comprised only 9% of executives, while 63% of the industry is made up of female employees. Data also showed that better-performing companies have more women in senior-level positions.

These and other findings are the result of an ongoing effort by SISO Women to identify and help remedy gender imbalance in the trade show sector. Muller spearheaded the 17-member committee late last year. Soon after, the committee partnered with The Negotiation Institute (TNI) to conduct research aimed at identifying specific areas of gender imbalance. SISO Women surveyed the industry and participants were asked to identify major barriers to success at their companies. They included employees, human resources managers and CEOs of some of the largest trade show organizers in the U.S. and abroad.

Respondents of the SISO Women survey rated on a scale of 1 to 5 their perceptions of barriers, with 5 being the highest barrier. On that scale, mid-level employees gave a 3.67 rating to two factors that stymie women in the industry: lack of networking and mentoring, and lack of senior management training. Senior-level participants cited a masculine corporate culture as the highest barrier, giving it an average 3.34 rating, while those who already are C-Suite employees rated lack of senior management training as a barrier, with a 3.38. Male and female respondents alike ranked lack of senior management training as the highest among all four-employee levels.

SISO Women will soon examine gender disparities in the industry through an in-depth white paper developed by TNI. Jack Simony, SISO member and Chairman of TNI, offered to assist the group early on. TNI hosts the Women Insights on the Art of Negotiation Summit (WIN Summit), an event focused on teaching women how to achieve greater success in their careers. 

More about this panel discussion and other sessions at the SISO CEO Summit will be covered in TSE's event recap.

Reach Courtney Muller at (203) 559-4497 or; Herve Sedky at (203) 480-5301 or; Mary Larkin at (207) 842-5532 or; Lisa Hannant at +44 (0) 20-7384-7700 or

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