I’ve been on a mission lately. It’s a mission I took on reluctantly even though I believe strongly that it’s a very important mission: Help improve the presence of women speakers at fitness conferences. I first wrote about this problem a couple of years ago in a recap of the Perform Better Summit I had just attended. 30 presenters and 30 men. In 2012. Really?
Since then I started including openness to female speakers in my criteria for selecting what conferences I attend. My criteria is that they need to either have reasonable representation by women on the speaker panel, which I define as at least as much as the US Congress (about 20 percent), or they must have some sort of accessible process such as a call for presenters.
Recently I was interviewed for the strengthcoach podcast to talk about a couple of training topics, as well as my perspective on women speakers at seminars (You can listen to it here). On that podcast, I mentioned that I’m not looking for forced gender equity via quotas, but rather a simple request for an accessible selection process. It’s a simple solution, in my opinion. Yes, it might yield extra emails, but the upside is that it might actually introduce the seminar organizer to new and exciting presenters that they haven’t heard of (men and women). If you let anyone apply, it also makes it hard for the likes of me to suggest you’re running an old boys club.
In addition to the suggestion above, I have also been compiling a list of women in the fitness industry who are writers, speakers, and influencers. Currently there are
39 118 women on this list, which I have included below along with links to their bios. In some cases they are already speakers at events, while in others they aren’t but should be. Hopefully this list will help to connect these great women with some seminar organizers.
Note that this list is far from exhaustive. That became apparent a few years ago when I had the privilege of speaking at the first Women’s Fitness Summit. The quality of women who both spoke and attended this event was incredible, and it makes me excited to see even more great fitness presentations given by women. Bottom line: there are a lot of smart women in the fitness industry who are excellent speakers. If you are running an event with only male speakers, please consider the following comment from social entrepreneur Scott Gilmore, from Maclean’s Magazine:
“There is no topic that cannot be discussed by women. There is no circumstance that would prevent one from inviting women. There is simply no rational excuse for excluding women.
Here is my list of women in the fitness industry that would be great additions to any speaker panel:
Ali Gilbert (Mens Health and hormone optimization)
Dr. Anjali Forber-Pratt
Dr. Ellie Somers (physicla therapist. female athlete management, body image & persistent pain)
Elsbeth Vaino (personal trainer. Structural variations and exercise, how to coach, motor control and exercise)
Dr. Emily splichal
Jennifer Pilotti (personal trainer. motor control, psychology, pain science).
Jennifer Volgegesang Blake
Jessica Shepherd (M.D., Women’s health issues)
Jo Clubb (sport scientist)
Dr. Joan Vernikos
Dr. Joanne Elphinston
Kaitlyn Pimental (training female golfers, train according to menstrual cycles)
Kara Stewart Agostino
Karen McDowell Smith (personal trainer, instructor for trainers. Kettlebell, Bodyweight strength, programming and assessments, mindset/positivity)
Dr. Kathy Dooley
Kellie Hart Davis
Kourtney Thomas (Personal Trainer and Online Coach. Women and hypertrophy, online coaching)
Dr. Lisa Holland
Dr. Lorena Martin (Seattle Mariners Director of high performance)
Louise Burke (sports nutrition researcher)
Lucy hendricks (Personal Trainer and LMT. Breathing and Posture, How to coach.)
Marie Spano (sports nutrition)
Meghan Callaway (personal trainer, mastering pullups)
Meghan Doyle (personal trainer, taking the first steps to fitness with sedentary women)
Sandy Hilton (physical therapist, continence without compromise, treating pain, and overcoming aging)
Sarah Ashman (nutrition)
Sarah Conomacos (nutrition)
Dr. Shirley Sahrmann
Stacey Lei Krauss
Sue Falsone (physical therapist, athletic trainer, strength coach. bridging the Gap from Rehab to Performance, alternative treatments)
Dr. Susan Kleiner
1. As this list grows, I’m trying to make it more helpful for conference organizers by including a title and 1 to 3 prefered topics, however because there are so many amazing women in fitness, it is a work in progress.
2. If you know of someone you think should be on this list, or if you think you should be on the list, please contact me with details. In addition to a name, please include a link to a website that has a bio and a method of contacting you, in the event that a conference organizer is interested. Please also include what you do (e.g. personal trainer, physical therapist, chirpractor etc), one to three topics you would present about. Pleaes keep the topic descriptions brief.
3. Yes I did include myself in the list. Some might view that as arrogant, but I think my self-inclusion is important. Let’s face it ladies, we tend to shy away from saying “pick me, pick me!“. But if we want to attend seminars with more than zero female presenters, we have to step up and say “you should pick me for this event“.
Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc., CSCS, is a personal trainer in Ottawa Canada who has an opinion or two.