2024: The year in which the average American woman may out earn the average American man




In honor of #InternationalWomensDay on March 8th, let’s examine current trends and gender dynamics in the event industry. Meeting planning and producing is often a misunderstood field. You don’t just plan parties. Planners help clients do everything from achieving their sales goals to enhancing their marketing message. The job includes travel and cocktail receptions, but there are also detailed budgets, disaster plans and event branding.


While female planners dominate the field, (according to Meeting Professionals International 80% of their members in the United States and Canada are women), relatively few have penetrated the upper ranks of executive management. Women serve a myriad of roles at firms or Convention & Visitor Bureaus, but rarely as CEO. The dearth of females in executive roles may explain why, when a woman does assume a high-profile position, it is often met with scrutiny and interest.


Despite the pervasive number of women who are meeting planners, gender imbalance is also evident in the event industry. A Professional Convention Management Association study revealed that women’s salaries are on average 14% lower than those of their male counterparts. Women will make an average of $69,408 a year while male counterparts come in at $81,161.


Why the significant disparity? Well for one, it’s not far from the national gender gap average when it comes to salary. Consider the facts: according to the Center for American Progress, the average American working woman, still gets paid 77-80% of what a male colleague does. While it’s true that 51% of American women are managers, just 10% of them are in CEO positions. Those female CEOs, for the record, earn 15% less than their male counterparts.


These stats reveal why it is still important to address gender issues in the workplace, even though many women ask why the conversation must be revisited at all. Such facts are also distressing for the simple reason that women have proven to contribute significantly to a company’s success. For instance, CNBC revealed that Fortune 500 companies with at least three women on their board of directors saw an 84% improved return on sales and 60% enhanced return on invested capital.


Overall, signs are pointing in the right direction. Within the corporate planning field, many female producers are getting the respect they deserve, especially those in charge of larger and more revenue-generating events and conferences.


Women are clearly making strides to reach high levels of success, yet still struggle to reach the highest levels of the C-Suite. So what advice should we offer women working their way up in the meetings and hospitality industry? Meeting professionals must continue to prove their value in terms of strategic contributions.


By proving their value and being seen as strategic assets or by launching their own companies as entrepreneurs, women event producers will build more parity for the profession overall and no longer need to demand respect; they will earn it.