As pernicious as this problem is in Western and more-developed countries, it is a near-crisis in India. Whether at public events or on television/radio, women experts are rarely called on. And, if they do get a seat at the table, they are often interrupted, shouted down or belittled. Not that there aren’t cases of women on panels exhibiting these same behaviors towards their co-panelists, of course. But, the issue is one of gross imbalance. And, the excuses of “not enough women experts” continues to be a feeble, lame excuse for those who are either too lazy or too comfortable with the status quo.
The Ladies Finger is an up-and-coming feminist e-zine in India and they published an article on this. I added a comment on how-tos for women panelists. They asked me to turn it into an article, which I did. Please add your own suggestions too.
Also, read this related article by a woman in tech in India sharing the excuses she hears to explain the lack of women speakers at these events. I’ve also added some “lean in” suggestions in the comments section for women who’d like to get onto panels.
[A note on the photograph above: Just last month, India held an event to discuss the contentious issue of net neutrality. As you see, it is an all-male panel. Sad because if there’s one area where you will find women more easily it is in technology. Even if they’re not directly running tech firms, they’re running online platforms which are just as impacted by the net neutrality issue. It would have been easy enough to ask a woman leader from one of the many female-run online platforms but this would have required thinking a little out of the box.]