Nesta pledges to end all-male event panels

05 Apr 2013 News

Nesta has followed the lead of policy charity IPPR by making a public commitment to include women in all of its own event panels and to encourage other events the charity participates in to do the same.

Jo Casebourne, director of public and social innovation at Nesta

Nesta has followed the lead of policy charity IPPR by making a public commitment to include women in all of its own event panels and to encourage other events the charity participates in to do the same.

Nesta, whose mission is to encourage innovation, says it hopes the move will encourage more diverse and representative perspectives at its various live physical and online events.

Nesta made the announcement in a blog yesterday. Co-authors Jo Casebourne (pictured) and Laura Bunt, director of policy and social innovation and lead policy adviser for public and social innovation respectively, highlighted examples of the level of gender inequality throughout the public and private sectors. These included the FTSE 100, where the percentage of women on boards dropped this year for the first time; and the charity sector where only 17 per cent of the top 100 charities by income have female chairs, according to the Women Count report of 2012.

"It remains clear that we need to do more to raise women's profiles in the public domain and give more women a platform to share their expertise," they said.

"Following in the footsteps of IPPR, Nesta has made a public commitment to end all-male panels at our events and advocate the same for events we participate in. As we host regular live events and publish videos online, we hope this will bring more diverse and representative perspectives to political and social debates and start to make events with no women speakers seem odd and anachronistic."

IPPR (the institute for Public Policy Research) made its commitment via its director Nick Pearce's blog in February and the move was largely welcomed by commentators, though some criticised the move as "overdue".

Not far enough

Nesta's Casebourne and Bunt say that while their move is a step in the right direction, they are aware it doesn't go far enough: "We also need to challenge dominant ethnic, class and disability representation in public life," they added. 

The charity's senior management team includes just one female out of seven employees. Catherine Bithell is executive director of communications and is currently on maternity leave. Its trustee board however is comprised of five females and six males, including Sir John Chisholm sitting as chair. 

Nesta has already held 14 events this year on matters ranging from the power of social action to the implications of brain boosting drugs. Its next event is a conversation with Oxford University professor Linda Yueh on 10 April discussing China's growth. But the charity's next major event is a roadshow in Belfast in May discussing innovation in Northern Ireland. Its headline speakers include two females out of a list of ten.

Earlier this year a fundraising summit organised by consultants Giles Pegram and Professor Adrian Sargeant was cancelled after condemnation of the lack of female speakers erupted via Twitter.


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