When I competed at the District 26 Spring Conference this year, I was asked to talk about something I’d learned from Toastmasters.
I chose that opportunity to speak about the gender bias I’d seen within the International Speech Competition. (You can watch my interview that here. My part starts at 7.55)
Toastmasters finally allowed women to join in 1973 and since then, women had only won the International Speech Competition 4 times. That’s 4 wins in 45 years.
When you hold a mirror up to that truth, it’s rather uncomfortable. Women need a level playing field and the only way that can happen is if everyone acknowledges that bias and works to self correct and lead through example, not tokenism.
I wanted my call to action to encourage others to look at that bias and to recognize that finally, we need to say #timesup.
I was thrilled to find out that the very next night we chose a woman, Kayse Loveless, to represent our District at the International Speech Competition. You can read about her experience at the competition here.
I was floored to learn that 3 women swept the 2018 International Speech Competition: a first in the history of Toastmasters.
As excited as I am to see this historic event, I look forward to the time when women winning is simply an accomplishment of talent and not an extraordinary moment of history.
Dia Kline CC, CL