An open letter: why women are to blame for all-male panels

Dear women of the built environment,

This is an open letter from me to all of you. It is a letter that might not make me many friends but it is a letter that needs to be written.

I am getting increasingly annoyed, upset and tired of the constant call out of all-male panels. None of us who put together these panels are blind, we can see that they are all male and, although it may come as some surprise to you, it upsets us too.

But it probably doesn’t upset us for all the same reasons it upsets you. It upsets us more. Why? Because we put a lot of time and effort (and heart) into curating panels. We try very hard to make sure they not only have the most relevant, most interesting and best people on them, but that they are balanced.

We use the wonderful Women Talk Real Estate database, our even more wonderful team of male and female journalists (and our two female conference producers) offer up their contacts, we use the socials to call out for women, we use our own list of hundreds of amazing women that make up the REWIRE tribe. We go all out.

For the past eight events we have produced we have invited 48 women to take part. Want to take a guess at how many women said yes and actually turned up to be on those panels? 18. Yep, just 18. That’s 37.5% of the women we asked saying yes. This is not good enough. And that, I’m afraid to say, is not our fault. That’s your fault. Only you have the power to say yes. We can’t force you. That would be a whole different sort of wrong.

I have met many women who work in the built environment and the vast majority of them are phenomenal human beings who are smart, hard-working and pretty damn amazing. They have attended our REWIRE sessions, I’ve cycled with them, I’ve made lasting friendships outside of work with a number of them. There are so many of you out there. And I, hand on heart, think you would all kill it up on stage talking about your individual areas of expertise but for some reason I see so few of you doing it. Why? I get up on stage and talk and I am neither an extrovert nor that smart! If I can do it, why can’t you?

I see the same with the amazing Cycle to MIPIM. Every year we ask for women to get involved in this ride, a ride that not only raises money for an amazing cause (Coram), but that also offers everyone on it the most amazing of career and business opportunities. I can guarantee that you will not make a better contact than the contacts you make on this. If you have cycled with someone to MIPIM and you want to pick up the phone to them after the ride, there is no way they will not take your call.

So why aren’t enough women in the industry seizing these opportunities? Why aren’t they making more noise? Why aren’t more of you saying: “Sod it, I’ll say yes to that”?

It is you, not us that changes this industry. I’ve ranted about #metoo before. About how negative that hashtag is and how we need to change that around and start saying: “Yes, me too, I’ll do that. Me too, I’m getting up on stage. Me too, I’m seizing that opportunity. Me too, I’m fricking awesome and people should listen to what I have to say”.

Me too, yes.

We here at EG will continue to ask you. We’ll even ask you 100 times if you keep saying no. We won’t stop. And if you see barriers to saying yes, flash this letter in front of that person creating the barrier and tear it down. EG will have your back.

EG wants you to be part of the wonderful things we want to do. All you have to do is put your hand up, say yes and be part of it. Join the panel. Join the debate. Join this industry.

E-mail me at with the subject line, “Yes, me too”.

Women: we need your help

At EG we want to find the solution to enable more women to say yes to panel debates and conferences. If you are female (sorry chaps) and working in the built environment, please spare five minutes to fill out the survey below. We want to do better.

Create your own user feedback survey