How do you feel about gender specific conferences? (Best Practices no. 12)

I recently attended and assisted with a conference that was for men only. At least that’s what the website said when I came across it. As a matter of fact, one of the words in the name of the conference was “Brotherhood”.

As attendees started arriving, it looked just like I expected. Since it was a construction industry event, there were a lot of rough looking guys there in various types of dress from business casual to work clothes.

And then a woman walked in.

It went over like a wet blanket. Active conversations stopped cold, and silence fell across the room.

The conference was actually really great. I enjoyed myself, took pages and pages of notes, and met some great folks. I even got to pitch a keynote for next year to the organizers of a medical conference in the next room.

The thing is, many of the lectures were designed for a male only audience. In other words, guys would be free to cuss, discuss off-color topics, and talk about family issues and business among other men. The conference itself lost a lot of the specificity and openness that was planned by the organizers.

In a similar vein, I’m sure many of you have heard of Rachel Hollis. Many of her events are pitched primarily for women, but a lot of guys still show up. I love listening to her podcast and Youtube offerings, but I’d feel uncomfortable at a female-specific event. Not only that. I wouldn’t want my attendance to take away from others enjoying themselves.

I want to hear what you think. How do you feel about gender-specific conferences and gatherings? I’d like for this to be an open conversation, so please comment below.

Here’s my opinion. I love the idea of open conferences where anyone can attend but also those where only certain people can attend. My wife loves going on what she calls “girl trips” without me, even though she doesn’t do it often. In the same respect, I crave men only gatherings from time to time. And yet we also love conferences where we both go together.

Let me know what you think.

Dr. Dave, the speaker who’ll attend just about any conference where he’s welcome


This message was written by a team of geeks, nerds, gamers, and Dr. David Powers. You can always find us at Thanks for reading!

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