I was invited to speak on a panel last week in New York. It was unwieldy, seven people, each of us with more than enough to say. Nonetheless, the event went smoothly and played out as expected: introductions, moderated discussion, self-deprecating jokes, a few thought-provoking facts, a couple heart-warming anecdotes and, of course, the mandatory reference to the “Internet of things.”
Then the audience was invited to ask questions. The second of these was “Why are there no women on stage?”
I hadn’t noticed. But it was true. On my left and right — no women. We looked at each other, then we looked at the audience, which was about half women, and suddenly our charming garrulousness was gone. It was an excellent question. But we had no answer.
I am not a feminist. When Vanity Fair breathlessly announces that Emma Watson has just given a game-changing speech on women’s rights, I roll my eyes and turn the page. I don’t have much to learn about equality from an undergrad with a talent for playing make-believe. The politics of tokenism does nothing for me and I have little time for those who claim they lack opportunity.
And yet, there were no women on that stage.