This Just In

Industry Leading Women Discuss the State of Gender Equality in the Trade Show and Events Industry


CHICAGO — Join Trade Show Executive’s Maddy Ryley as she talks with Sonia Thomas, Executive Director of the Women in Exhibitions Network; Mary Larkin, who is now the Americas CEO at Arc and SISO Chair; and Joyce Russell, Managing Director of Sales at Visit Indy and IAEE’s Women’s Leadership Committee Chairperson, about the experiences of women in the trade show industry. 

These industry leaders share their thoughts on where the trade show industry stands with gender equality, their advice for other women and the challenges that still need to be overcome to achieve true equality in the workplace. 

Key Takeaways from the Discussion:

  1. It’s important for women to feel empowered to advocate and negotiate for themselves, so that they feel confident in their roles and taking control of their careers. More women have been advocating for themselves now than before, showing that a positive change is taking place.
  2. Setting boundaries and saying no is okay. Younger professionals prioritize having a good work/life balance, and the desire for a balance is spreading through different age groups. Work is just one part of people’s lives, and people shouldn’t feel that they need to be available 24/7 to be successful in their careers.
  3.  Don’t just join an organization, get involved and be active. Being involved and visible in organizations can help to build professional networks and provide
  4. Supporting and empowering other women in the trade show industry is key to creating substantial change. Mentorship is an invaluable tool that can teach younger professionals lessons and tools that will be applicable their entire careers.
  5. Real progress to gender equality is being made and has been seen, but there is still much work to be done, from ending the gender pay gap to diversifying the executive leadership to include more women and other marginalized voices, but the trade show industry appears to be moving in the right direction.

Reach Sonia Thomas at; Mary Larkin at; Joyce Russell at 

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