Why Aren’t There More Women Competing in the World Championship of Public Speaking?
this morning in malaysia was the 2014 world championship of public speaking!
it was in a gorgeous venue at the kuala lumpur convention centre and it was a packed house.
first place was dananjaya hettiarachchi from sri lanka, second was kwong yue yang from china and third place was kelly sargeant from houston!
this competition holds a special place in my heart since my husband claimed the 2012 spot and we dedicated our lives that year to learning everything we could about speaking and communication (and still are learning as much as we can). i will say it’s much more enjoyable now to not have the anxiety and stress of him competing and being able to concentrate on other peoples’ important messages.
one perk of this is that we get front row seats to the contest along with the other world champions from previous years, which means i can sleep about 7 minutes longer and for that i am grateful. (not pictured but also in attendance was mark hunter).
a great group of mainly men that have provided mentorship for my hubs as we navigated the chaos that ensued following his win!
out of the past 70+ years that this contest has been going on, four women have won (thanks for the correction paula and others). only four.
1977 Evelyn Jane Burgay, Springfield, Virginia
1986 Arabella Bengzon, Ontario, Canada
1985 Marie C. Pyne, Ireland
2008 LaShunda Rundles, Dallas, Texas (who passed away in 2012 but put a lot of energy into spreading her message and inspiring everyone she came in contact with)
the disappointing thing about this contest, and many previous years of the contest is the lack of women making it to the finals stage.
out of 91 contestants competing in malaysia at the semi-finals contests, 18 of them were women. only 1 woman made it on the finals stage (and yay kelly for placing 3rd!), accompanied by 8 men. toastmasters international consists of slightly more than 50% women so why aren’t we being adequately represented on the world stage?
are we less interested in competition? does our storytelling not fit into the mold that has been created by men winning the contest? i don’t necessarily have an answer for this but i do know that it fires me up inside.
i got a chance to informally chat with oliva schofield yesterday in the middle of the conference centre hallway and we were both upset and sad about the lack of women being represented at the contests. she is a fireball that was on the finals stage in 2011 and from what i hear, completely and totally rocked the house. she is also passionate about finding a way to have women better represented and i was glad to feel not alone in these thoughts.
i don’t have a solution at the moment. i just felt compelled to share my thoughts and bring light to the fact that we, as women, have incredibly strong voices and messages that the world needs to hear. while we don’t need trophies and contests to validate this, it would be nice to be represented on these platforms when they do exist.
important note: i don’t want to take anything away from any male competitors, male world champions or dananjaya because he was an engaging speaker that delivered a fabulous message and was 100% deserving of the title! i am simply expressing that i’d love to see more women chasing and eating that cake.