The first set of results from our 2000 salary and lifestyle survey, carried out with ESP Recruitment, has revealed that women are fast making their way to the top in what has previously been considered a man's world.
Wherever there is supposed male dominance, a closer inspection will often reveal women waiting in the wings for their opportunity to succeed or trying to influence events from a different tack. During the past decade, this has been true of both the event management and exhibitions industries.
Gone are the days of the male managing director's personal assistant organising the event or conference for the firm. Event management is now a dedicated and defined career path and women are thriving in all areas.
The range of exhibitions has also increased, allowing women to focus on organising large-scale exhibitions in sectors that are no longer limited to heavy industry and engineering.
The increase, and perhaps relative numerical dominance of women across the two sectors, was shown in the survey by the fact that nearly twice as many women as men responded - 64% compared with 36%. It is still a man's world at the top, however, as the survey showed that men are twice as likely to be chairmen, managing directors, owners or proprietors. And they are six times as likely to be board directors or partners.
'Men have worked in both industries for longer so it makes sense that they have achieved more senior roles,' ESP Recruitment director Liz Sinclair comments. 'Women are working their way up at a rapid speed and we shall see an increase in women gaining senior level responsibility over the next few years.'
One reason for women's predicted rise up the career ladder could be that they are better qualified. According to the survey, 38% of women have a job-related qualification compared with 28% of men. And women are twice as likely to have a post-graduate qualification and a third more likely to have a degree.
It also appears that women undertake qualifications to focus their careers on a specific sector. Previously, they would have been more prepared to start from the bottom for the chance to work for the more glamorous companies that organise parties or sporting events. Now women dominate the in-house events sector - 41% compared with 16% - as well as the charities and public sectors - 20% compared with 8%.
Men, on the other hand, are more likely to work in some capacity with exhibitions - 46% compared with 36%. Men claim to enjoy the business side of a job more, and making sales and winning new business outweighs social enjoyment when selecting a career path.
When the time comes to move jobs, the survey discovered that men move for the money - 22% compared with 12% of women, while women are twice as likely to move to get promotion and twice as likely to move because they feel that career progression is restricted.
'Men move for a better package whereas women are becoming more and more ambitious,' Sinclair says. 'They're the ones that move when they reach a glass ceiling and it is becoming quite a problem in both the exhibition and event industries. Women don't want to organise the same event year on year.'
Respondents were asked in the survey how many events they were involved in each year. The respondents in exhibitions tended to have been involved with the smallest number of events, (35% involved with between one and five), whereas the in-house and event management respondents were most likely to do 11 to 30 events. In event services, 41% were involved with 31 to 50 events.
With women dominating the organisation of events and finding their feet in more and more exhibition roles, the future looks certain to see women fighting harder than ever for those senior jobs that have traditionally been filled by men. Men's future seems to lie in the technical side of event production and in exhibition sales where they can flourish under the financial rewards of commission and work towards an end goal.
Of course, that still leaves the all-important issue of pay. And in next month's Live Issue we will give a breakdown of average earnings so you can see if you are being paid what you are worth. As the industry becomes more sophisticated with new career roles can you afford not to know?
WOMEN ON TOP
Lois Jacobs, chairman, Jack Morton Worldwide
'I've been working in live events for three years and I've never thought it was a man's world.
The only disadvantage that women in this industry face is when they decide to have families and be the prime carer while working long hours and spending time out of the country.'
Caroline Eden, director, IIR Exhibitions
Eden has more than a decade of exhibition experience and has covered organising, promoting and managing exhibitions. She had overall responsibility for printing fair Ipex 98, including sales, marketing and event organising and is show director of Ipex 2002.
Alison Hunter, managing director, Fresh RM, a division of Montgomery Exhibitions
Hunter began her career with Montgomery in 1989, going on to became event manager of international food and drink exhibition IFE. In 1997 she was appointed director of Montgomery and a year later joined the board of Emap Montgomery.
Sarah Gladstone, freelance operations consultant Gladstone started out as a temp at Emap and 14 years on she's still in the industry. 'Once you get in you can't get out,' she says. But she points out that senior positions are still taken up mainly by men. 'It's up to the industry to appeal to more young people,' she adds.
Neshat Ahmed, deputy managing director, Emap Fashion
Ahmed observes that Emap's broad range of shows are organised by predominantly female teams but few women make it to senior level. 'You have to be willing to pay the price for commitment in this industry and men seem more willing to do that than women,' she says. 'When it comes to juggling work with a desire to get married and have children, most women decide not to opt for both.'
Niki Baker, show director on Dmg World Media's Daily Mail Ideal Home Show.
Baker joined Dmg in 1984 when it was called DMG Trinity. She worked in several roles before becoming group operations manager in 1993. Three years later she took full control of the operations budgets. Baker was promoted to her present role in 1999.
- Has worked in the industry for six years or more
- About 35 years old
- Educated to HND standard
- Likely to be a manager with aspirations to be a director
- Motivated by the commission he makes by winning new business
- Often works more than 40 hours a week
- Uses the Internet at home and at work
- Will move jobs for a better financial package
- Has held her job for less than six years
- Under 35 years old
- Educated to degree or post-graduate level
- Likely to have junior role (for now)
- Enjoys the social and logistical aspects of the job
- Works a 40-hour week
- Uses the Internet at work more than at home
- Will move jobs for a better overall package.