The Goal is Gender Parity — at TED and Beyond

by cv harquail on December 6, 2010

Is it possible that I haven’t been clear about what we’d like to see at TED conferences? In the conversations around TEDWomen, the relative absence of women and men of color TED programs, and concerns about whether TED as an organization is interested in inclusiveness, we may have focused mostly on constructive criticism and possible action steps. I may have just assumed that everyone knew what the goal was.

201012061204.jpgIf so, let me make the goal clear. The goal is:

Gender Parity at TED 2011 and Beyond

Because women surely have at least half of the world’s big ideas, it’s time for TED to commit to full gender parity, with proportionally diverse representation, starting at the very next TED conference, and at every TED and TEDx conference from now on.

We are not interested in nudging the needle from 25% or 30% women speakers all the way up to 35% or 40%. We want full parity — 51% of the speaking slots for women.

We’re not interested in taking another 10 years to get to parity on the TED Stage. We want parity at the very next TED conference, and at every TED conference beyond that. This means that there should be 51% female speakers and 49% male speakers, at the very next TED 2011.

Let’s face it: TED can’t offer a valid range of truly influential ideas if it doesn’t mine the ideas of a truly diverse pool of speakers.  Women and men from a range of groups, not just the most privileged groups, have ideas worth sharing. We want a diverse group of these women (and men) on the TED stages.

To have a most effective TED, it needs to be clear that race privilege, gender privilege, sexual identity or orientation privilege, economic privilege, or privileges of physical ability should not and will not be unconscious criteria that exclude a full range of women thinkers and doers.

Gender Parity is an Idea Worth Sharing

We don’t need more excuses — there are plenty of women with kick-ass ideas who are more than qualified to share their ideas from the main TED stage, as well as from the stages of  TEDx and TEDWomen.

TED doesn’t need more time — the change we advocate is easy to implement, and practical action suggestions are abundant. In fact, a full action plan is forthcoming from the NYWSE Roundtable on Wednesday evening.

The only thing we need now is an explicit, sincere commitment to parity from TED.

TED, gender parity is an idea worth sharing. We want to share with you our ideas for making TED inclusive.

Email me, or comment below, and I can connect you with a diverse group of women and men who are ready to help.


Thank you to Gloria Feldt (@gloriafeldt) and Debra Condren (@debracondren), whose ideas and action suggestions inform this post, and forthcoming posts about Gender Parity at TED.

See also:
Want More Women on Tech & TED Panels? Reject Meritocracy and Embrace Curation
Separate Still Isn’t Equal: Sexism and TEDWomen
Followup on the TEDWomen Conversation
Is TEDWomen Sexist? Use the “Group Replacement Test” and tell us what you think
Building on TED & the TEDWomen Conference: How can _we_ make conferences more inclusive spaces?

Images from Flickr:
The Colours of Autumn – II from
Balancedfrom nasedo


Tracey Carr December 7, 2010 at 5:50 am

Woo Hoo TED ….somebody had to have the courage to stand up and be counted on this issue. Thank you, thank you, thank you

jon December 10, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Seems like a great goal to me!

AmazingSusan December 12, 2010 at 12:44 pm

So, ummm, you think there should be as many if not more women on TED and other stages around the world from now on…? Am I getting it right? #justchecking

AmazingSusan December 12, 2010 at 12:45 pm


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