Funny 'cause it's true: 'All Male Panel' Tumblr reveals female representation at professional events
The last time you were sitting at a professional event and counted how many women held a seat on the panel, were you disappointed? It’s not just you. Women are woefully underrepresented in panels and academic conferences. It’s such a widespread problem that there are several organizations, like FPI Interrupted and EUPanelWatch, dedicated to putting more microphones in front of women at these events.
In an effort to quell some of that disenchantment, a cheeky new Tumblr is setting to call out how unbalanced and often male-heavy most panels are.
Simply called “Congrats! You Have an All-Male Panel!” the site calls out everyday sexism at places like colleges and tech conferences. It just features photo representations of, well, all-male panels. As icing to the cake, David Hasselhoff (or just The Hoff to those in the know) glibly gives a thumbs up in every image. Under each photo is the caption: “Congrats! You’ve got an all male panel.”
As you scroll through the Tumblr, the sheer number of all-male panels is both hilarious and kind of devastating. Because, well, all male panels are not hard to find.
Who should we thank for this funny-because-it’s-true piece of Tumblr beauty? It’s the brainchild of Finnish feminist researcher Dr. Saara Särmä, who conveniently conducted her dissertation on internet memes.
“I think women’s expertise is often not simply recognized,” Särmä, 40, tells Time, adding that it’s especially prevalent in academia. “It is somehow easier to see a white middle-aged (or older) man in your mind when you think of an expert.”
Särmä created the testosterone-fuelled blog in Feb. 2015 and has been successfully naming and shaming lazy or homogeneous panels over the last few months. (Why The Hoff, you ask? “The Hoff is just simply Hoffsome,” she continued. “As a kid who grew up in the ’80s watching the Knight Rider, I have a fondness for the Hoff, also he’s the epitome of a white masculinity, isn’t he?”)
While this is a great start in pointing out the blatant lack of diversity in most panels, we hope this really sparks some serious change.Instead of just having a token woman panelist, maybe those planning these events will have to look deeper than just a token, and have women who are knowledgable and authoritative over the subjects they cover
Back in 2013, Atlantic writer Rebecca Rosen criticized the lack of women on tech panels, and proposed an elegant and simple solution: Men should refuse to participate in a panel unless at least one woman besides the chair is present. Sounds like a good start to us.