Trade shows within this industry can be hard enough to survive for anyone, let alone as a woman when women make up less than 10% of the general populace. There are undoubtedly some benefits to being the minority (as there are with many things); I\'ve never had to queue for the toilets for a start. However, feedback we have collated from our FBI database on the female experience at trade shows suggests there is still some way to go for gender equality and having an equivalent presence as a woman on the show floor.
"When wandering around booths with a male colleague, I am never approached first by the sales teams. I have to go out of my way to speak to them first.\"
"I\'m often intimidated by the lack of females and lose confidence in my own capability.\"
"People comment on what I\'m wearing more than my technical knowledge on the subject!\"
"I\'d like to see more women on panels; it doesn\'t feel like there are enough female role models within the industry.\"
"Often I feel patronised when usually I actually know more about the techy details than they do!\"
So, how can we overcome these issues? Female members of the Bubble & Squeak team have been standing out at trade shows effectively for longer than they\'d care to admit, so I\'ve collated some of our top tips for having your voice heard in an equal capacity at trade shows and similar industry events.
- Prepare yourself
Prepare yourself in whatever capacity makes you feel most comfortable. Some women will stay up the night before scouting out the latest industry news, some have a quiet few minutes of zen psyching themselves up for the show floor and some wear a mighty power outfit to give them a confidence boost. Pack early, eat breakfast, plan your wardrobe, check your diary timings. Whatever works for you, preparation of your mental state each morning to go out there and kick some butt is key.
- Have a voice - make sure you are heard
With the increase in popularity of social media at shows, it\'s so easy to have a say in what\'s going on even before you\'ve arrived at an event! Monitoring social media will not only ensure you are totally up to speed with the latest developments, it also means you can really get involved and have your voice heard as a thought leader by tweeting and posting on relevant industry trends. Being outspoken on industry hot topics isn\'t exclusive to online media though; go to booths, discussions and panels and stand out by putting your hand up, asking that question and inciting that debate.
- Have confidence in yourself
A matter of contention that we often hear from FBI members is lack of confidence. Unfortunately, it is fundamental yet something that only evolves over time as you practise it. Thankfully, you can feign confidence through a couple of practical body language tips; keep eye contact, speak clearly and slowly, and stand up straight with good posture. These will not only help give the appearance of confidence but will calm you down too.
- Hold your own
It\'s easy to be intimidated as the minority in a group, so it\'s important to remember that you have the same, if not more technical knowledge on your specific subject of expertise than many other people in the room. Everyone has different areas of focus and you may just be at an advantage as the minority; hold your own, keep confidence in yourself and in your own opinions and don\'t be afraid to enlighten their minds with a completely novel mind-set. You may be surprised how many people will listen when you have something great to say.