Men: You can help fix this. Refuse to participate unless there are women on stage with you.
Have you noticed that a lot of the time it just seems like, gosh, there are a lot of dudes speaking at this conference? Perhaps you've been on a panel and you've looked around and seen man after man after man. Maybe you've thought, it's too bad the organizers didn't think to balance this out a bit more and ask some women to speak too.
I love that this has bothered you. And I am happy to tell you about a simple step you can take to help change this: Refuse to speak on all male-panels. Just say no.
I am borrowing this idea from the Jewish non-profit world, where an organization known as Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community has created a pledge that asks men to forswear all-male panels. As sociologist Shaul Kelner explains:
Since accepting AWP's challenge and making a pledge two years ago not to participate in all-male panels, I have had the opportunity to invoke the pledge in a number of professional and communal settings. (Not too many, thankfully. That is a good sign.)
I cannot speak for the dozens of other Jewish male leaders, scholars and activists who also made the pledge, but in my case, push has never actually come to shove. My convictions have not yet been tested. I never had to refuse participation because, so far, not once have the conveners failed to "find" a woman who can participate. Generally, the conversations have gone something like this:
"Prof. Kelner, will you teach at our all-night Shavuot study session?"
"Sure. I'd be happy to. Who else is on the program?"
"Abe, Isaac and Jake"
"You couldn't find any women to teach? Look, I'd love to join the program, but I've made a pledge not to participate in all-male panels. And anyway, do you really want to send the message that there are no qualified women?"
"Wow! You're right. Thank you. We're going to fix this."
"Do that, and I'll be happy to participate."
By presenting it as a pledge, Kelner says, it comes across with greater force than as just a personal choice or principle.