IMEX Survey Explores Challenges, Opportunities for Women in the Meetings Industry

To mark International Women's Day on March 8, and to help it prepare for its Women's Leadership Forums at IMEX in Frankfurt in May and IMEX America in October, the IMEX Group yesterday released the results of a December survey conducted on opportunities, challenges and learning interests for women in the global meetings industry.

The survey engaged 120 women and men from the United States and Europe. According to female respondents, IMEX reported, "there are still places where gaps exist between a woman's experience, achievement and knowledge and the level of respect, trust and opportunity she feels she receives in business." Although progress is being made, women said — with women increasingly serving as key innovators, leaders and decision-makers within their organizations — "there is still room for improvement."

Other issues of interest and concern to female respondents were:

• Work/life balance: Many of the women surveyed indicated that they need help "setting reasonable limits without fear of losing their jobs or taking a hit on professional recognition," according to IMEX, which said women also want to find ways to avoid "snapping into 'caretaker-mode' when on the job."

• Keeping up with technology, younger workers: "Always wanting to better their skill set and knowledge, many women in the survey also noted negotiation training as a top interest," according to IMEX, which cited financial management, economic forecasting, strategic planning, time management and social media best practices as the skills women are most interested in developing, along with knowledge about corporate governance, team management and employee motivation.

Male survey respondents "likewise see continued issues in leadership and professional opportunities for women — sometimes based on perceived versus actual differences in skills created by lingering biases and traditionally heavier child care requirements," IMEX reported. On the professional development side, it said, "male survey participants see no difference in what women and men are seeking, predominantly more learning in finance, technology and leadership."

Said IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer, "Understanding how achievement is fostered within our industry for women and collaborating to move that issue forward is very exciting for us. We are always eager to have insights like those from these surveys. They help to drive and improve our education program, which this year offers over 100 seminars and workshops, many of which have a strong appeal for women working in the meetings industry in particular."

IMEX in Frankfurt will take place in Frankfurt, Germany, May 22-24. IMEX America, meanwhile, will take place in Las Vegas Oct. 9-11. For more information on offerings for women at both shows, visit www.imex-frankfurt.com/women.html and www.imexamerica.com/women.html.