Gini Dietrich

Gender and Pay Inequality is Alive and Well

By: Gini Dietrich | February 18, 2016 | 

Gender and Pay Inequality is Alive and WellBy Gini Dietrich

A few months ago, I received an email from a conference organizer who was “super excited” that I am in Chicago because they were having their conference here and I was their first choice for keynote speaker.

As I do, I responded with a note about how flattering that was and thanked her for thinking of me. And then I told her Dawn Buford, my right- and left-hand, would get back to her on the specifics.

Fast forward a few days later and I received another email from the woman who said my fees were too high and asked me to please reduce them.

She told me Dawn wouldn’t budge so she’d try me. She begged and pleaded. She told me they’d buy me wine and pay for a cab to pick me up and drop me off. Anything if I’d reduce my fee.

But we had already reduced my fee because it wasn’t necessary for me to get on a plane and I wouldn’t be away from the office for a full day.

So I stood my ground.

And she told me they had to go a different direction. They just couldn’t afford me.

And a Different Direction They Went

A few months went by and I received an email from a friend who was in town to speak at a conference. He wanted to know if I could get together for drinks or dinner.

After setting our date for dinner, I asked him where he was speaking.

He told me.

It was the same conference where I’d been invited as their “first choice,” but had ended up being too expensive.

I asked him what they were paying him.


Not only was it three times what I had quoted them, they also were paying his expenses. And he was staying at the Peninsula, not Motel 6.

Even if he embellished his fee to me, I knew it had to be significantly more than what I quoted them, if only because they were also paying to get him to Chicago.

Slapped in the Face with Gender and Pay Inequality

This was the first time—in my entire career—I’d been slapped in the face with gender and pay inequality.

Sure, there are lots of times I’ve not been paid as much as my male counterparts.

I’ve shared the stage with Mitch Joel and Chris Brogan and Jay Baer and David Meerman Scott, all of whom are paid at least double (if not more) what I am.

But they’re all more experienced than I am and they all make speaking a career. I do not.

So I’m okay with them making more.

But to be told I’m too expensive, in my own home town, only to find out later that a male colleague was paid significantly more?

I can’t think of any other reason that would be except he’s a man and I am not.

And, trust me, I’ve tried to think of every other reason because I refuse to believe that so blatantly still happens.

There Are Plenty of Great Women Out There

As I look at conference line-ups and talk to friends who place speakers in keynote slots, it is all still dominated by men.

I hear things such as, “We need to get a woman as a headliner” or “Can you speak at this conference? We need some women.”

But that’s not because there aren’t plenty of really smart, really great women speakers to go around.

In our space, alone, you have Ann Handley and Kerry Gorgone and Shonali Burke and Deirdre Breakenridge and me (and countless others; I can give you a gigantic list, if you want).

None of us are paid close to what the aforementioned male colleagues are paid, but none of the five of us do this for a living.

We do it to educate the industry. To help colleagues and peers work through challenges. To provide solutions that help move the industry forward.

And yet, we’re not dominating the keynote slots or hearing complaints that the conferences are female-dominated (do you think we’ll live to hear that?).

Whatever the reason this happens, there is nothing worse than another woman not supporting women.

And that’s exactly what this conference organizer did when she told me I was too expensive and then hired a male colleague who ended up costing nearly four times my fee.

image credit: shutterstock

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • If you haven’t already, you should send this post to the conference contact person, cc’ing the male friend, and ask for an explanation.

    This sucks.

    • Kevin Vandever

      I second this suggestion.

      • Deb Dobson

        I third.

        • I’m not going to do that for a few reasons, but mostly because my friend told me in confidence how much they paid him. If I wanted to shame the conference organizer, I would have named names here. My point is not to do that, but to bring to light a very deep situation that still exists.

          • Deb Dobson

            Good point.

          • Kristen Ridley

            While I appreciate what you are saying and your reasons, I wonder how simply making a general audience aware of this will have a substantive impact. I suspect most of those reading your – absolutely important- post are unlikely to be decision-makers hiring speakers. While I don’t advocate public shaming, if those making such choices never hear first hand how they, and the choices they make are perceived, by potential speakers as well as the conference-goers on whose behalf they make those choices, I don’t see how change can happen in a more timely fashion. At the very least I might forward the person a link to this post, with a “Seen my latest post? Link attached” in a blind email so she doesn’t know it only went to her. Sometimes you need to hit people in the face with a brick!

          • I know this person reads Spin Sucks, which is how she found out about me in the first place. So one can hope she sees it, but also appreciates that I didn’t name shame her. We’ll see.

          • Keena Lykins

            Is this where I remind you that Chicago is still a “small town” and your conference organizer will likely read this? 🙂

          • I was going to start singing a song, but it didn’t work with the tune I have in my head.

  • Andy Donovan

    That is incredibly shameful of this organizer to have tried to have you reduce what clearly was not even close to your male counterparts. Okay this isn’t your “living” Gini but your time is valuable and you have done it enough to know what you and your content are worth. Simply deplorable.

    • I seriously have tried to think of every reason this would have happened. I really can’t believe it’s was consciously a male vs. female thing.

      • Not to doubt you, you have clearly thought this through. But I assume all other things being equal? Similar amount of experience? He doesn’t bring specialized expertise with this particular group? He doesn’t have a string of NYT bestsellers?

        • Nope. Our experience is fairly similar. The biggest difference is I own a business (two, in fact) and he is a consultant. Maybe consultants just make more.

          • Gotcha, though I’d be surprised if a consultant was seen as a better investment than a business owner. Crazy town.

        • And, really, I don’t mind that he makes more money than me, generally. Like I don’t mind that Mitch Joel makes more. What I do mind is being told I’m too expensive and then watching them hire someone for significantly more. So I wasn’t too expensive.

          • Amanda Lee

            Was it possible that by the time they got to him, everyone else wanted more money then they were willing to pay and they got desperate? I believe your story – just playing devils advocate.

          • patmrhoads

            If that was the case, Gini’s required fee would have become even more attractive. It doesn’t sound like they came back and offered to pay Gini what she’d originally asked. If my “first choice” was too expensive and no one else I wanted was less or the same amount, I would go back to Gini and say something like, “We just can’t think of anyone we’d rather have speak, so we’ve made a way to make your fee work in our budget, if you’re still available.”

          • And what Pat said.

          • Maybe…but why not come back to me and say they’re now willing to pay it?

  • It has nothing to do with doing this for a living or not. It has to do with your expertise, with what you have to share with the audience, and the value you bring to them. The fact that you don’t go from one city to another to talk to every possible conference, doesn’t mean you have less experience or expertise.

    They should pay for the value you bring, not gender, not being in the same town, not anything, period.

    As for the organizer, I would have asked her: “How would you like to be paid less than you are?”

    And Danny, is right (though I know you won’t do it). I would share this blog post with the lady in question with a message: “Here is something you might want to read.”

    • You know, you’re right. I should have said that in the blog post. Time is time. And guess what? (Well, you already know this.) Clients pay A LOT of money for me. It should be the same for any of my time.

    • patmrhoads

      Yes! This. It doesn’t matter if speaking is her primary profession or not. Hiring a speaker should be about the value they bring to the audience, and what you’re willing to pay that speaker for that value. Their primary job (and especially their gender) shouldn’t play a role in that calculation.

      • Yeah, you’re right. I guess I’m still trying to justify it in my head.

  • Buy you wine and pick you up in a cab! Wow, what perks! My favorite with the in-town speech is that it’s “just an hour of your time.” Right, an hour on stage, 20-30 hours of prep time, administrative work, contracts, research, tailoring. Not to mention that the speech itself is the product of countless hours of work and years of accumulated experience.
    Anyway, good for you for holding firm. That’s pretty insane about the disparity.

    • While I think the substance of this post is critically important, can I just say how much I love the fact that you included “tailoring”? Oh wait — does this go to that “women get charged more for dry cleaning than men” thing? Maybe that was the best subtle tie-in of all! 🙂

      • Yes, I do make clients pay for a new Saville Row suit for me. I mean, they don’t want me to show up wearing off-the-rack, do they????

        • Do you make them take out the red M&Ms too?

    • So you’ve heard “it’s just an hour of your time” before too, huh? I don’t think people really understand how much goes into it. I’m doing a commencement speech in April and, because it’s only 15 minutes and I have to have the thing totally memorized, I’m not only starting on it now, but hiring a coach to help me. It will easily be 30 hours or more of prep time, plus the expense I have to hire someone. They just don’t get that.

      • OOH AAH if there’s a transcript/recording afterwards your fans would like to hear it!

      • Yeah, if it’s just an hour of my time, I am ridiculously overpaid.

  • Agree with what Danny said; directly asking the conference coordinator what gives is a fair and justified response to this situation.

    A naive question from me: does your male colleague have a reputation as a professional speaker, in the vein that you mentioned Brogan, Scott, Joel, et al? Could it be the allure of getting a national”professional” speaker to draw a crowd vs. “just” a local professional? Not that I want to defend this by any stretch, I just wonder if there is any rational explanation that would be used to justify what would in any case be unfair behavior on their part.

    I’m glad you’re raising this as an issue — and I’m glad you’ve done it in as classy a way as you did: calling out the lousy behavior and questioning it, while not going all scorched earth and naming names and trying to embarrass them. That’s smart PR in and of itself.

    I’ll be curious as to whether or how they respond to your post and the attendant attention it may draw to the issue if not their conduct.

    • Maybe … even still, *I* am seen as a national speaker (even international, if you will) who just happens to live in Chicago. The conference happened to be here. What if it were in Vegas? Would I then be seen as a national speaker?

      I guess what bothers me more than anything is they chose me first. She even said I was their first choice. And I get being too expensive. But don’t go and hire someone else and pay them significantly more than I quoted you.

  • Good for you to post about this! The story needs to be heard. I have a similar story, although I don’t know what my male counterpart received for his speaking gig. I only had my travel expenses covered to speak at a conference across the country, but I know he got paid something for his time. He spoke for a living and I primarily write so that might have been some of it. But as Andy Donovan said, time is valuable and the content you provide is worth something, even if it’s not exclusively what you offer in your business.

    I’ve experienced so much sexism in the workplace I’ve thought about writing a book on it. I don’t consider myself a feminist and don’t buy into a victim mentality, but when things like this are clear as day, it’s hard to ignore.

    • I think what Deirdre says below is right…we have to present a unified front. If we’re all going to charge a fee to speak, none of us should accept engagements that pay only expenses. Of course, there are a few exceptions to the rule, but we should all stand our ground!

      And, I don’t care if someone speaks for a living and you “just write.” You’re taking time away from the office. That is worth something.

      • And how about certain associations that don’t even pay expenses, but hey! You get a free ticket to their conference!!! #justsayno

        • I once keynoted at an event and received zero fee or expenses, and later found out the opening keynote received both.

          This is why I don’t have any interest in playing the speaking game circuit.

          • He’s speaking about me.

          • Ha! I don’t blame the speaker. I don’t even blame the conference. But, for me, it merely reinforces my apathy towards the whole “professional speaking” thing.

        • And you’ll probably find lots of potential clients. Yeah…right.

  • Chel

    I read this with my mouth open. I don’t think I’m supposed to be able to do that anymore.

    • You’re not supposed to read with your mouth open?

      • Chel

        It’s your fault. I’ve read a lot of things that have shocked me and thought the internet was done having its way with me in regards to shock, seems I was wrong. You broke it.

  • I agree with you on all points Gini. But this trend goes much deeper than fees commanded on the conference speaking circuit. Agencies are an extremely competitive environment and the package you negotiate upon joining will often dictate your earning power for your whole tenure in an agency. I have been making hiring decisions in agencies for 15 years now and I can tell you without a moment’s hesitation men negotiate harder and tend to get better deals than women. I’m not sure how we fix this. The issues behind the trend are complex, but at the very least we should make everyone in our profession aware of it.

    • I talk about this, A LOT! I find the same thing. It almost makes me want to say, “Look, I am going to offer you something at the low range of our budget and I want to see how you negotiate.” In fact, when my SIL was offered a new job, she was lost as to how to negotiate so I practically did it for her. I mean, she did the heavy lifting, but I coached her through it.

      I don’t know why that is, but I agree it must change.

      • Because girls are told to play nice and don’t be pushy (shorthanded for witchy with a b) and all sorts of other things. Of course, that’s a generalization, but for the most part, we don’t ask for what we want. We take what we can get.
        I don’t know how to change that, but considering the terms thrown about for the two women who were/are running for president, it will take a while for a less judgmental attitude to prevail.

      • Sigrid Wald

        Gini – Could you point out some good articles or books on the art of negotiating? Especially if you have put together information on becoming a better negotiator, I would be interested in reading it. Thanks in advance!

        • Hmmmm… I know the Art of Negotiation is a good one, but I haven’t read any others that I would say are must-reads.

          It more just takes some practice. What’s your role, career-wise?

          • Sigrid Wald

            Yeah that’s mostly been my experience too. I’m an in-house PR rep for a state government agency. I just found your discussion on negotiating interesting, because I was just having a similar conversation with a family member about whether or not it was appropriate to ask for a particular salary or even offer a salary range when asked in an interview. She’s been a part of the hiring process in her office and she was always impressed with those who basically left it up to those with hiring authority by saying something along the lines of, “I have faith that your offer will be fair” when the discussion turned to compensation. I used that tactic right out of college and it worked well for me. But when I was approached about the position I currently hold and they asked me about compensation, I gave the same answer and they milked it for what that answer is worth: they basically turned into a lateral move in terms of salary. But because I had the ability to spearhead more projects and gain more experience, I still took the offer. Granted, government agencies are pretty locked in on what they can offer for each position. There isn’t a lot of wiggle room – something that may be different for large companies on the private sector. Nevertheless, negotiating is such a fine balance and it really depends on the personalities of those who you are dealing with. It helps to know a little bit about the person who you’re negotiating with before hand, but you don’t always get that luxury. Especially in an interview.

          • I find it really interesting that your family member was impressed by that answer. That would irritate me (as a hiring manager) because it gives me zero parameters to start from…and surely you have a baseline that you can’t go below.

            Two things I always advise: Offer a range and the low-end of your range is where you really want to be. So if you want to be at $65,000, your range should be $65,000-$85,000. And the second thing is never accept the first offer. It’s always the low-ball offer. Always.

            I helped my sister-in-law negotiate her latest package and she was scared to death to push back on them. But she did and she’s actually making the high-end of her range, plus she got a bigger bonus percentage than they first offered. They will always negotiate. You should, too.

  • Gini, this is just unacceptable! And, you’re right it happens all of the time. Thankfully, we are not making a living on the speaking. But, regardless, we should stand our ground. I had a conversation on my podcast show about women not helping women and in the end, it is damaging for us all. I really hope you go back to that conference organizer to share your thoughts. I don’t want to get into all of my war stories, maybe over a glass of wine someday. However, I used to give a lot of breaks in the past. But, I don’t do that anymore. The fact is that these conferences need great women speakers and our views and perspectives. If we all stand firm and don’t waiver, and help each other out at the same time, well then we might see this needle move. Otherwise, the same patterns will continue. Thanks so much for sharing this topic and shedding light on an issue that needs to change; one that we should drive and push harder together.

    • I used to give breaks, too, but my time has become too scarce. I think that helps. It also helps to talk to other women speakers so we DO provide a unified front. (And I will take you up on that glass of wine.)

  • The only thing that mitigates the gall of such blatantly sexist behavior is that today, the conference organizer would be embarrassed if their name got out. Sunlight is a powerful disinfectant. Even in a free market, most professionals agree gender-based pricing is wrong, rude, and discriminatory. As people who benefit from Machiavellian pricing praise “whatever the market will bear,” one thing seems to aid the rest of the market: exposure and open discussion. Thanks for speaking so openly about your experience.

    • Thanks, Margo. I actually wasn’t going to write about it because I don’t like to name names, but I figured if I could do it without dragging individuals down, it should be a conversation we have.

  • Krista Carnes

    Having worked to book authors as speakers for years I know how prevelant this is – Some friends of mine started which is dedicated to keeping women in the public dialogue and calling out events where there is an inordinate lack of women speakers/experts represented. It’ll feul your fire for sure!
    Glad you brought this example to the fore – every example helps shift perceptions and future actions!

    • Thank you for this! I will definitely check it out. And thank you for commenting! I’m asked all the time to refer someone who books authors and you are now on my list!

  • Honestly? I think you should out the conference. That’s shameful.

    • You know that’s not my style. 🙂

      • it’s not mine either but Bob is right. 😉

        • And I know one of the GenderAvenger founders. I’m going to put this on her radar too.

  • Meg

    Wine as a benefit! Imagine. Do they think you’re a Real Housewife of Chicago or something? Oy.

    I’m sorry you had to look sexism that hard in the eye, but I appreciate you sharing the experience so people realize that these things are still happening to people they know and respect. Absurd.

  • The flip side of this conversation is getting invited to keynote “because we need a woman speaker.” Because ability to menstruate is clearly my only qualification, not years of works experience, a list of publications longer than your arm, and actual speaking ability.

    • LOL! Yes, exactly! Have you seen all the hubbub about Hillary Clinton getting paid to speak? People are all up in arms about it, but no one has ever said anything about how much her husband makes ($250K+). Because, you know, it’s not like she’s been Secretary of State or a Senator or have any real experience people might like to hear.

  • Tracy Corral

    Regarding the gender pay inequality post, would you have believed it was gender inequality if a friend or acquaintance had same experience and told you about it? Or, would you have tried to come up with excuses/reasons for why it might not be a gender bias. It sounded like you wanted to go there when you wrote “…And, trust me, I’ve tried to think of every other reason because I refuse to believe that so blatantly still happens…”

    Essentially, I’m wondering if you would feel the same way if it had happened to someone other than you. Or would you have made excuses or tried to find some reason why it couldn’t possibly be so?

    • I think almost anyone’s initial reaction, if it happens to you or someone else, would be to try and rationalize it because it’s 2016 and how could this possibly still be a thing?

      • Tracy Corral

        Why rationalize it? I don’t understand what that would necessary.

        • Because it’s important to think through all the potential scenarios instead of immediately assuming it’s sexism. I think, in this case, it clearly was, but there are certainly other times where it isn’t as clear cut.

  • I have read this and the comments, and really can’t move on to the day without commenting further. But all the “things” have been said. EXCEPT THIS. I don’t think the “decision point” is whether or not you “do this (speaking) for a living.” You do it well enough that you were their first choice in this situation. YOU DESERVE WHATEVER THEY PAID THE INDIVIDUAL THEY EVENTUALLY CHOSE. Now, it is a slight diversion but this is the first thing that came to mind as I really tried to think of what I could contribute that no one has said already. Do you follow @levine_alison (oh, here’s where I discover Postmatic doesn’t tag LOL … ) so do you follow Alison Levine? In her TedX about climbing Mount Everest (well, it’s about many things but it’s about climbing Mount Everest), there’s a spot (minutes 13:14-15:00 approximately) where she talks about discussing her ATTEMPT (because, spoiler alert, she did not make the summit the first time even though it took two months) with a man. After she told a man,”I climbed Mount Everest,” he said, “oh so you summited Mount Everest!” to which she responded, well, no, I did not reach the summit, to which he responded “oh well you didn’t actually climb then, huh?” (paraphrasing…). SHE asked him “what do you do?” He said, “I work for [name of bank]” and SHE said, “oh so you’re the CEO of [name of bank]!” and he said, well, no, I’m in Private Investments (or whatever) to which SHE said, “oh so you don’t REALLY WORK FOR [name of bank], huh?” Point being … the perception that you don’t deserve full pay because you don’t “speak for a living” is perhaps doing yourself a disservice. As Alison Levine would say, keep believing in yourself (her hashtag is #KeepClimbing). If you’re interested, here’s the link to the talk:

    • This is such a great analogy, Paula. WOW!

    • Chel

      Love this talk. And it IS perfect. I just wish it weren’t so damn necessary.

      • Agree ….. (and there are SO many great takeaways in this talk!)

    • Just imagine me sitting at my desk rah rah cheering for you, Paula. This is such a good point. And, having seen Gini speak a number of times (lucky me!!), she’s worth every penny.

      • I did imagine that, and it brightened my day! 🙂 Thanks.

  • Tonia Johnson

    Hi Gini!
    I was already trying to think of “other reasons” before I got to this sentence: “And, trust me, I’ve tried to think of every other reason because I refuse to believe that so blatantly still happens”.
    I try not to believe this too, but sadly, I know it is alive and well. A free cab ride? No thanks.

  • Thanks for sharing this – it’s an important issue and one we need to speak more openly about.

    Would be great to see a Blab on this topic with women who speak at a variety of conferences.

  • Jen Phillips

    Well, the good news is that when they contact you again for a different speaking engagement in the future, you can gush and tell them how great it is that they upped their budget for keynote speakers.

  • Genene Murphy

    Holy. Reading this, I’m not so much surprised but amused. And perhaps my dulled reaction is cynicism at play.

    I work with professionals who are often asked to reduce fees because a group of people rightly assumes my clients are altruistic … but wanting good things for good people does not translate to reducing the value of one’s good work. I imagine the reaction of the askers — also professionals and billable at law and communications firms — if my clients turned the tables and asked them to reduce fees for professionals services they need. You can see their faces now, right? Kind of like, hell no, that’s funny, and now back to business. I often laugh with my clients when they tell me stories of what they’ve been asked … and especially when it’s a woman asking another woman. Privately, sometimes the askers will complain to me and imply my intervention. Or seek my validation. And that’s the worse.

    It’s equally infuriating when someone would rather pay a man who is not as qualified (not this case, I understand) for more money because they’ve been taught to believe a man can do the job better. Perceived value is costly, though, when reality proves differently. I watch from afar, making sure to share these stories with my daughter who will one day, I’m sure, call me in disgust. She’s nine. While I’d like to think this conversation might die with wisdom, I’m prepared to entertain it with her because she’s worth it. Always. Just like you. Keep on with the keeping on, and thanks.

    • I really, really hope this is a non-issue by the time our girls are grown. I’m kind of at a loss on how to even share how to fight this.

      • patmrhoads


  • Oh where to begin, first off this is plain wrong, you’re worth at least twice what they paid the male speaker for the keynote Gini. Two, I know you don’t want to out the conference in question but by sharing this post far and wide, sooner or later, the organizers will stumble on it. I have a rule of thumb for booking speakers do they know their stuff, do they connect with my audience and three does their speaking fee and expenses fit the budget, gender doesn’t enter into the equation. -Bill Smith

  • This is disgusting and this type of behaviour is completely unacceptable as per the previous comments. I’ve seen you speak several times and you hold your own with the best of them. It makes me so angry for you. I hope the conference organizer reads Spin Sucks and sees how much we think her behaviour sucks big time. Thanks for all you give to others each and every day. Karma will pay it forward.

  • I’m really glad you’re telling this story the way you are (I couldn’t name names either). You’re highlighting an ongoing and ridiculously frustrating problem that is never going away if people don’t know it exists and understand that it’s not okay. It would be amazing if male speakers would begin to speak out and act on this as well. When women are treated equally to men, the world will be a better place for all of us.

    • In fairness, there are plenty of men who DO speak out and act on this. There are some men who are bigger feminists than I am. And, when I told my friend that I had been invited to speak, but was too expensive, he was horrified.

      • Did your friend raise it with the event organizer? Because that would have been a great learning moment, and an opportunity for him to stand up and say it wasn’t right.

  • Doc Sheldon

    Sorry this happened to you, Gini. I’ve seen others point out similar issues with conferences, particularly in the tech sector. No excuse for it, IMO.
    I’d love to see a few of the larger conferences that pay for speakers just publish their policies and fees… maybe it would make others follow suit.
    I’m glad you stuck to your guns. If I were in your shoes, I think I’d be crossing that particular conference off my list in future, both for speaking and attending.

    • Thanks, Doc! I think I will also publish my fees to avoid some of this. Someone suggested that on Facebook and I think it’s a good idea.

  • Thanks for the shout-out, Gini! I posted my comments/rant on Facebook. Short version: This is B.S. Complete and total. I’ve seen you speak, and you’re absolutely as good as any of the other top-notch speakers you mention (whom I’ve also seen). They deserve their generous fees, and you deserve to be paid what you quote.

    • Thanks, Kerry! <3 I saw your comment on FB and will be by later to chat.

  • You go, Gina – these types of situations make me grit my teeth. (It’s not on a whim that I use the name James, despite being more of a Jane!)

    • You called her Gina. Now you gone and done it… 😉

    • Well, isn’t THAT interesting?! We should have this conversation!

  • I read this this morning and raged and then decided my energy was better spent snuggling with my sick kitty. 🙁
    There are so many facets to pay and inequality that I’m not sure I want to delve into that right now. I just want to say that I’d rather spend more for someone who is consistently doing the work than for someone who is a “professional” speaker. You show up every day and question things and look for validation of concepts and theories which makes your time even more valuable because you practice what you preach.

    • That’s what someone else said on Facebook. So thank you! I do think there is value in being in the trenches so you know what works and what doesn’t work. BUT. That rarely lends itself to a keynote. Typically keynotes are inspirational and theory-based so it’s a lot easier for consultants and professional speakers to do that.

  • Sarah Robinson

    Preach it sister. See it all the time, experience it all the time. You wonder who looks Iat the event speaker roster of 23 men and 2 women and says “yes, let’s go wit that.” And I’ve seen countless arguments along the lines of “but we can’t find good female speakers”. Really?? That’s the best you can come up with?? I HATE that this happened to you. Grrrrrrrrr……..

    • Whenever I get on a plane, I look around at who is getting on first because of status. It’s typically 90% men. I’ve often wondered if this is because women tend to be the caregivers so it’s harder for us to travel. It’s hard for me to believe it’s because, in 2016, we still aren’t invited to speak or to work with out-of-town clients.

      But when people say they can’t find good female speakers, I guess I wonder if I’m being naive.

  • I’m just curious – what were the reasons you came up with before you got to this one?

    • Well, I really want to believe in 2016 someone doesn’t consciously say, “He’s a man so we’re going to pay him more.”

      So I imagine a few things could have happened: They could have had time on their side when they approached me and then, when they couldn’t find someone in their budget range, they panicked and brought in someone, no matter how much it cost.

      It could have been that the person who contacted me wasn’t really the decision maker and, when she floated my name, I wasn’t either known, respected, or well-liked.

      It could be the old saying that you can’t be a prophet in your own hometown so they went wiht someone who is perceived a “national” speaker.

      I’ve tried to think of every scenario, but the gender inequality one.

  • Thanks. I was curious to see how it lined up with what I could think of, which it pretty much did. I also thought of a potential change in focus on their side that moved them toward people with a higher fee. So what made you dismiss those reasons and settle on the gender inequality one?

    • I’m not totally sold on that’s what it is. But the more people I told about it privately, the more riled up I got. And a friend finally said, “You have to write about this.”

  • And that is when they pay people at all. Most of the conferences I have been invited to speak “can’t afford” it.

    yeah right! lol

    • My favorite line is, “But you’ll likely meet many prospects.” I fell for that once. And no one hired me.

  • Andy

    Totally agree with all of the sentiment in this column, and the real life inequalities it speaks to, but man do I hate this expression: ‘Whatever the reason this happens, there is nothing worse than another woman not supporting women.’ It’s overused, and I don’t even really see what it accomplishes.

    • Madeline Albright just said there is a special place in hell for women who don’t support one another. And she’s right. It may be overused, but as a sex, we are catty and mean to one another. If we want anything to change, we have to start supporting one another first.

      • Clearly you’ve never been in a Scottish bar when last orders are called…

      • Andy

        Yeah, but she also used it in regards to women who don’t intend to vote for Hillary, which I’d say is pretty messed up. ‘If you’re a woman you better like this woman because she’s a woman or else you’re a traitor’ doesn’t feel like the right sentiment.

        • My mum once gave me a right earful because I didn’t vote the SNP (Scottish National Party). She said, and I quote, “I was a traitor to Scotland.”

          Umm, no. I’d be a traitor to Scotland if I voted for a jingoistic, fear-mongering party, which is what the SNP was back then (still are, to a degree).

          Like you say, you don’t call someone out because they don’t go along with your line of thinking and who you say they should vote for.

        • She actually said it a few years ago, but is being called to the carpet for using it in reference to Clinton. I agree with her assessment, overall. We DO need to support one another. We certainly can’t expect men to support us if we don’t.

          • Andy

            She’s said it many times, most recently in campaigning for Hillary. I agree women should support each other, but again the sentiment just doesn’t seem right – unequal treatment is unequal treatment, regardless of perceived ‘sameness’ or ‘otherness’ between the perpetrator and victim.

  • Since you live in Chicago, are you afraid that the conference organizer will now have you killed?

    • I have bodyguards.

      • I think JB would only protect you if the attacker came in with a pizza. 😉

  • You & I have already talked about how sickening this is. The other thing that happens with me is, they want to check off their “diversity” box but not pay for the privilege. And at some of these conferences, I STILL get told I “don’t sound like an Indian.” Read between the lines…

  • stephen_ydw_i

    This really sucks. Aside from the unfairness and suckiness, I also really fail to understand how this makes any business sense?

    Hope it’s not too much of a plug to share some data we got together that suggests women are way more likely to be underpaid than men, which hopefully contributes to disproving the gender pay gap is just down to women taking lower paid jobs (