In our second Collaboration Station, Ellivate member Madeline Pratt shares the story of how she identified a problem in the accounting industry and tapped into the power of collaboration to solve it.
In June 2016, I stumbled across unconscious bias in action at an accounting industry conference. Waiting for a breakout session to begin, I sparked a casual conversation with some fellow attendees about the visible absence of female speakers at the event. We had all noticed this and found it odd, considering the majority of the audience was female. Overhearing our conversation, a (female) employee of the organization hosting the event interrupted our conversation and insisted that this was due to the fact that it was “so hard to find women of mainstage caliber.” I was shocked, but not surprised. Misogyny works in mysterious ways. I was also a little furious, because I was sitting in the midst of multiple “mainstage caliber” women.
Fast forward to May 2019, and my Twitter inbox was blowing up with women outraged by another prominent industry conference that was hosting and promoting panel discussions on topics such as “The Future of the Profession” with only white men as panelists. In the post-Me-Too era, these women were officially over the excuses, and we didn’t buy into the idea that there weren’t “more qualified women speakers.” We want to hear more diverse perspectives and be a part of inclusive events. It was then that I decided I was going to do more than just call someone out on Twitter. I wanted to build a team and take action.
Thanks to my experience in the Ellivate Alliance, I am reminded constantly of the power that arises when women work together to lift each other up and tackle big problems. I knew that the change I wanted to see could only come about by collaborating with other women. At Womxn Talk Money, our mission is to elevate the voices of female speakers by building a network of womxn speakers, entrepreneurs, and financial professionals to fundamentally change the way womxn talk about money (curious about the “x” in “womxn?” Read why here).
We’re first addressing this problem by encouraging more women to speak up and confidently own their financial expertise on a conference stage. This approach led me to create online classes with two incredible women, Geni Whitehouse and Misty Megia (one of Ellivate’s very own Dream Teamers!), and workshop events to help women get more comfortable speaking and sharing their stories.
We’re also building the first ever directory of qualified and confident female speakers. With the help of Sara Keats, we have compiled a list of over 100 talented female speakers from around the world, including 5 women from Ellivate – Robina Bennion, Sarah Elliott, Melisa Galasso, Dena Jansen and Lindsay Stevenson! These women are experts in areas of accounting, personal finance, and Fintech. By creating this resource, we will dispel the myth that female speakers are hard to find. We will uplift and encourage women to share their stories, ultimately changing the conversation about female speakers in the world of finance.
We are deeply passionate about expanding the financial conversation among women and have big dreams for the future of this network of womxn! By talking more about money, women empower themselves and fundamentally change their financial futures.