Women and Meetings

Kudos for the comprehensive coverage on the wage and leadership gap in the meeting industry! [“Breaking Through Is Hard to Do,” August 2003, page 16.] Three years ago, as COO of McGettigan Partners, I recognized the gap between the number of women in the industry and the number of women in top leadership positions — in an industry that flourishes with the abilities of women. Thus the Women's Leadership Initiative was born — and found a home with MPI.

The meetings industry cannot continue to ignore the reality. The WLI is dedicated to affecting change, and your great work is much needed and appreciated to help lead the way. Thanks for keeping this topic in the forefront.
Christine Duffy
President, COO
Maritz McGettigan
Dallas

Thanks for realizing the impact that the Women's Leadership Initiative research can have. We will be coming out with resources that will help both individuals and organizations make change happen. Stay tuned. Thank you for the great coverage — and for “getting it”!
M.J. Calnan
Managing Director
MPI Women's Leadership Initiative
MPI Foundation
Dallas

Self-Perception Counts

I struggle with the the fact that meeting planning is often considered “women's work,” as your August cover story states. Is that because education, hospitality, and community-building (the three focuses at any meeting) have been roles traditionally filled by women? We need to stop looking at meetings as a series of meal functions and classrooms and begin looking at them as critical revenue streams and the most visible member interactions with our associations. When we perceive ourselves as playing critical roles deserving appropriate compensation, we will be treated that way. If the senior meeting planner — male or female — does not have a seat at the leadership table in an association with a meetings-dependent revenue stream, that is a point to be challenged.

But compensation is not simply a monetary issue: I consider my compensation a package of salary, benefits, work environment, flexibility, corporate stability, and interaction with members and colleagues. If a survey asked male and female planners which they value more: flexibility, the ability to affect change, and a positive work environment or a higher salary, I think that more women might select the first. I know I have consciously chosen that path in making decisions about my career. I wonder if a part of this “gender wage chasm” actually reflects conscious choices by women to be in more supportive and flexible (if lower paying) environments?
Kellee C. Magee
Director of Member Resources
American Nursery & Landscape
Association
Washington D.C.