The pledge

“At a public conference I won’t serve on a panel of two people or more unless there is at least one woman on the panel, not including the Chair.”

Make The Pledge

At a public conference I won’t serve on a panel of two people or more unless there is at least one woman on the panel, not including the Chair

**your signature**

2,370 signatures

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Frequently asked questions

What happens if we have tried to find women but there is nobody available?

Try harder. I’ll be happy to suggest some women who would be much better than me. You may need to organise your conference a little earlier to be sure of getting women on your panels.

What happens if a woman drops out and we end up with a men-only panel?

There are many brilliant women – please find someone else to take her place.

What if a woman drops out at very short notice?

I get it: shit happens. You could cover yourself by planning to have two women on the panel (gosh!). But if I’ve agreed to be on a panel I won’t let you down if something genuinely unforseen happens. (But if this means a male-only panel, you’ll have to forgive me in advance for the fact that I am going to tease you about this in the meeting.)

Organising conferences is hard enough already?

The Gendered Conference Campaign has some great advice for conference organisers.

What else can we do?

  • Keep drawing attention to the issue. If you are at a conference with male-only panels, call it out.
  • Audit your events and keep track of the trends
  • Be mindful about promoting women through social media

Who has taken the pledge?

Latest Signatures
2,370 Ms Meera Shenoy
2,369 Mr Brooke Patterson Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
2,368 Ms Ariel Delaney
2,367 Mr Prabir Borooah Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
2,366 Mr Matthew Bohan Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
2,365 Ms Jamie Zimmerman Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
2,364 Dr. MARIANA BROENS Sao Paulo State University - UNESP
2,363 Mr Jason Lamb Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
2,362 Dr. Sara Escalona Doctor
2,361 Mr Jeremiah Grossman
2,360 Mr Azeez Gupta Rocket Learning
2,359 Mr Himanshu Nagpal Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
2,358 Ms Maria May Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
2,357 Mr Daniel Radcliffe
2,356 Dr. Kanwaljit Singh Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
2,355 Mr Mohammed Ahmed
2,354 Mr Robin Sukhia
2,353 Ms Arati Davis Sweden India Business Council
2,352 Ms Urvashi Devidayal Sankalp Forum
2,351 Ms Neelam Pandita
2,350 Ms Maria Gracea
2,349 Mr Ashok Kumar E R President, GiveIndia
2,348 Ms Sartiah Yusran Univ Halu Oleo Kendari
2,347 Dr. Kevin Caliendo Rose State College
2,346 Ms Krishna Patel
2,345 Mr Ben Johnson Johns Hopkins University SOM
2,344 Ms Anna Marie Young Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
2,343 Ms Dana Goplerud Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
2,342 Mr Rohit Thapa Learning Links Foundation
2,341 Dr. Vishal Dev Shastri ALIVE & THRIVE
2,340 Miss Sarah Quinn London School of Economics
2,339 Ms Nursyahbani Katjasungkana Indonesian Legal Aid Association for Women
2,338 Mr maurits van der Vlugt
2,337 Dr. Tom Wakeford ETC Group
2,336 Dr. Michael Netzel The University of Queensland
2,335 Dr. Nima Gunness
2,334 Dr. Daniel Rodriguez University of Queensland
2,333 Dr. Yasmina Sultanbawa QAAFI
2,332 Dr. Janine Lay University of Queensland
2,331 Mr Jason Lamb BMGF
2,330 Mrs Annie Cox
2,329 Mr Stephen Williams University of Queensland
2,328 Dr. Melanie Wilkinson The University of Queensland
2,327 Dr. Neil O'Leary NUI Galway
2,326 Dr. Glen Fox
2,325 Dr. Richard Fuller The University of Queensland
2,324 Dr. Mark Cooper The University of Queensland
2,323 Dr. Mike Gidley The University of Queensland
2,322 Dr. Ian Godwin The University of Queensland
2,321 Dr. Mary Fletcher University of Queensland (QAAFI)

Another list of people who have made the same commitment:

 Coverage and Inspiration

Last year, six leading Washington think tanks presented more than 150 events on the Middle East that included not a single woman speaker. Fewer than one-quarter of all the speakers at the 232 events at those think tanks recorded in our newly compiled data-set were women.

The mysterious absence of women from Middle East policy debates – Tamara Cofman Wittes and Marc Lynch, Washington Post Money Cage, January 20th 2015

Because I believe you cannot conduct constructive discourse on international issues without the participation of women, I recently decided not to speak on any panels that did not include women. I’m not writing this to seek a pat on the back. But because any discussion that does not include women’s perspectives or that reflexively excludes or fails to seek out the women who are leaders in their fields in virtually any and every subject on this agenda will be deeply inadequate and will only compound distortions of gender bias that exist because of our long history of systematic exclusion of women’s views. I’d much rather participate in discussions where the organizers actually demonstrate that they are committed to producing the best possible work product.

“Still waiting for Davos Woman”
 by David Rothkopf, FP Magazine, January 22nd, 2015

I often attend panels or discussions dominated by men, especially in technology. This is problematic since it sends the signal that only men have the expertise in their given field. To their credit, some men are initiating change.

Three Ways To Change The Ratio of Women Receiving VC – Leah Eichler, Inc Website, November 10th 2014

There is no topic that cannot be discussed by women. There is no circumstance that would prevent one from inviting women. There is simply no rational excuse for excluding women. And, if you are invited to join a panel with no women, you must conclude it is being organized by fools.

Why I will no longer speak on all-male panels – Scott Gilmore, Macleans, October 4th, 2014

Join the conversation


  1. So many rumblings surrounding this issue, must become loud and must have awareness-raising at the heart of their goals. Attempts at gender conscious programming are weak at best, as are efforts which consider other diversity issues on panels, etc.

    This is a solid pledge. Thank you.

  2. This is a fantastic pledge, and I hope it generates real change in the way conference organizers (and all kinds of organizers!) think and plan their events. Credit to those who already do — thank you!

  3. I honestly can’t see why this would be a problem, women are everywhere… doing everything. I do so pledge.

  4. Leah Eichler stated in Nvember 2014 that he ” often attend panels or discussions dominated by men, especially in technology. This is problematic since it sends the signal that only men have the expertise in their given field. To their credit, some men are initiating change.”

    And it is correc that gender is the balanced and equitable sharing of responsibilities between me n and women and one still don’t see how his could happe n still today without some sort of affirmative action and positive discrimination today in favor of women in many sectors where they are yet left behind .

    The Pledge advocating for more balanced meetings/panel discussions etc is certainly a good initiative to support

    With kind regards


  5. Just a simple idea that may change our global behaviour in the near future. It should be easy to find women for panel as they are more numerous on earth than we are …
    Thank you for the initiative.

  6. Happy to sign up. It’s not just about gender – a broader diversity of viewpoints is important.

  7. Using our power to address the biases that have given us that power in the first place. I like it.

    Would you pledge to require that there be at least one female candidate for the next top job you get recruited for?

  8. I think it’s a great idea to encourage diversity in all public discourse, but I’m surprised and disappointed in the exclusionary language of this pledge. The posts on this site go out of their way to say that there is no subject about which women cannot speak…that is certainly very true…and that there should never be a public panel discussion without a healthy ratio of females…but when it actually declares the pledge, it says nothing about all woman panels. In the interest of true equality, shouldn’t it encourage that people abstain from any panel that excludes either gender? It is true that there is no subject that could not benefit from a woman’s perspective, but is the opposite not also true?

    1. @@ Because there are so very many all-women panels that are not about how to succeed in business despite discrimination against women. If you actually bother to look, and I don’t think you have, you’ll find that academic panels discussing women’s-studies/gender issues generally do have men on them.

      Because the women are already conscious of this issue and take it seriously.

  9. Well… that’s a good start, but you’ve set us up now for tokenism. I’d suggest bumping it to two women, Bechdel-like. You know, where the question’s whether a movie’s got two women, with names, who at any point in the  movie have a conversation without a man around, about something other than a man.

  10. I’m in

    Andy Jones

    Radio Film


    and if you haven’t watched this already, powerful story from Theo Sowa

  11. I am in support of this – and please do sign me up – but note that an end to all-male panels doesn’t just mean proper representation of women, it means proper representation for trans people too. So I’d prefer to see this pledge worded as “At a public conference I won’t serve on a panel of two people or more unless there is at least one non-male panel member, not including the Chair.” Also, “We believe that public discourse would be improved by better representation of all genders.”

    Any chance of changing the wording in that way? It would keep the same meaning for the pledge without excluding a large swathe of people who are even more disproportionately under-represented than women at these kinds of events.

    Danny Chivers

    Author of the No-Nonsense Guide to Climate Change and the No-Nonsense Guide to Renewable Energy

  12. How is this pledge being enforced? I’m at a conference not only attended, but ORGANIZED by one of the individuals on this pledge list. Opening panel – all white European men.

  13. It seems frightening to me, abandoning the meritocratic approach to debates. Shouldn’t we find the best people for the job, regardless of gender? Rather than arbitrarily deciding, that having both sexes on every panel automatically makes it better?

    1. Morty – I don’t regard this as abandoning the meritocratic approach to debates. I regard it as considering the qualities needed for the panel as a whole, rather than considering each panel member separately. Just as management teams are better when they are diverse, debates and ideas are better when they are exposed to diverse viewpoints. We will have more and better ideas when we open our debates to more diversity.

  14. Inclusion and gender balance, are the beginning, not the end of addressing gender inequality.

    I believe that public discourse would be improved by better representation of all genders. At a public conference I won’t serve on a panel of two people or more unless there is at least one non-male panel member, not including the Chair.

    Shane Bartlett
    Country Director
    Educat Rwanda

  15. This is a superb idea, and I would like to sign the pledge.  Please do add my name.

    Gavin Yamey

    Professor of the Practice of Global Health & Public Policy

    Associate Director for Policy

    Duke Global Health Institute


  16. thanks Owen – i’m definitely in, but would also like to encourage broader diversity in all panels, discussions, workshops – everything. pale male panels need to make way for the inclusion of all voices, but particularly those who can best represent the topic at hand; and in our work, that means more voices from the global south, male and female.

    1. Peter


      Thanks. I agree with all of this apart from one small word: “but”.  You mean “and”, right? I can’t see any implied contradiction between what you say here and the pledge above.



  17. This is great.  Perhaps we should also pledge not to attend any sessions that just have men on the panel!

  18. To all women who signed this pledge: congratulations! You are almost certain to keep your promise. Men: stay true!

  19. I think we should add that the moderator, when opening the floor for questions, gives the opportunity to woman, man, woman, man,  as too often men are asking the floor first. And also too often they don’t have a question, but they just give their own speech..

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