UFI announced the results of the ‘Women in the exhibitions industry’ research at its 85th Global Congress in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The research is a joint project between UFI and its media partner m+a, providing insights into the perception of women’s and men’s skills in the workplace, the potential for advancement for women within the industry and details of the different female career drivers.
More than 200 respondents from around the world, mostly women, participated in the online survey.
According to the research results, 82 per cent of respondents highly appreciate working in the exhibition industry and love their jobs.
Women were identified as having ‘soft skills’ such as good communication skills and empathy. Women were also judged as having strong organisational skills, with the capacity to multi-task. Despite these soft skills, women lagged behind men when it came to networking. Meanwhile, all respondents, both women and men, assigned self-confidence, technical know-how and power-related skills to men.
Concerning treatment and equality of opportunities, more than half of the female respondents did not feel treated equally when it comes to salary and career opportunities, and more than one third also felt that they are held back from having more responsibility.
Most of the respondents felt that the industry would benefit from more female leaders and 61 per cent already see active support for women, although only 49 per cent think that quotas are the way to go. Women, contrarily to men, often have to choose between their career and private life, which is also seen as one of the major negative career factors, with career breaks due to maternity leave (78 per cent) and institutional discrimination (68 per cent).
Dr. Gwen Kaufmann from Deutscher Fachverlag, who led the project, commented: “Women clearly make up the majority of the workforce in the trade fair industry, but they only represent a minority of the leadership. Both men and women agree that women can deliver diversity with a more creative approach when it comes to solving problems, helping the industry to prosper.”
Sonia Thomas, COO at UFI, added: “Men and women have different skills, and are complementary, so the optimum is a mix of both sexes. We all must consider how to increase female representation at senior level by making the path to the top a little easier for women.”
After the initial presentation of the research results at the UFI Global Congress in St. Petersburg, the association will continue to work on the topic.
In line with UFI’s objective to provide vital data and best practices to the entire exhibition industry, the full results can be downloaded at www.ufi.org/research.