Not all sexism is blatant. Sexual harassment can start in ways that may even seem innocent. Lisa Wang’s Forbes article 6 Harsh Truths Every Female Founder Should Be Aware Of Before Fundraising features my experience attending “a high-profile networking event in San Francisco that was more conducive for dating and less for exchanging ideas and strategic partnerships.”
Lisa quotes me recalling:
“After pitches, the music goes back on, and anyone trying to have follow-up conversations is forced to either go someplace quieter, or physically move closer together to have productive conversations. Both of those scenarios tends to result in a man thinking a woman is interested in more than just business talks.”
I hope my sharing my experience will cause event planners to think more carefully about the type of environment they intend to create at any given event. Are you currently planning an event where you hope to facilitate men and women exchanging ideas and building strategic partnerships as equals? If your answer is yes, I highly encourage you to leave out loud music, dim lighting, and dance floors. When you blur the line between a networking event and a party, you significantly increase the likelihood of misinterpretations which can lead to uncomfortable situations.