Around 2010, I worked a job which involved a lot of travel. I visited countries around the world to promote UK education, and one of my core markets was Russia and its capital city of Moscow.
As I was walking in Moscow, there was one thing that kept standing out to me. The Russians seemed to love flowers. There were lots of цветы stands all over the city. In the freezing winter and busy city, I wondered what occasions there were for all that floral appreciation. So I asked my Russian colleague Mariyam when the flowers change hands.
She said "The biggest is the International Women's Day".
I responded with wonder: "International what? Women's Day? What is this? When is this?"
"It is 8 March", she explained. "This is the day when men give women flowers."
I was charmed. I'd already noticed Russian chivalry as men held doors open for me and allowed me to enter the Metro before them. Russia, who knew! "Wow, I never knew that this place was so supportive of women!", I said.
But I was wrong. Mariyam explained: "On this day, men give flowers and say "You are doing a good job, woman". Maybe the woman can spend more on a haircut. And the next day, they she goes back in the kitchen."
She laughed, but right there and then I knew that she had a point.
My own upbringing taught me that a woman's voice is not her main asset. Growing up in rural Germany, Hausfrau was the norm as a job for women. You may have read about this as "Kinder, Küche, Kirche" - children, kitchen, and church.
Women are not expected to speak up, to lead, to be the boss of anything let alone men, to even speak other languages.
We are living in a society where women have been long valued for "quietly getting on with it".
The voices of boys in the classroom are louder, more often heard, more praised, and as a result we see that females hold back in conversation. Even successful women fear that there is limited space at the top and it can happen that they "pull up the drawbridge" behind them.
That is not the world I want to live in.
I always knew that I love languages and that I want to make a lot of noise about it. My dream is to do things that inspire and motivate everyone, no matter if they're a man or a woman. And I have always been aware of the strength of male voices in our space.
For a while now, I'd wanted to build on the energy and inspiration created at the best polyglot events. So last year, when my friends Lindsay Williams (Fluent Show co-host and Lindsay Does Languages) and Shannon Kennedy (Eurolinguiste) mentioned that they both had been thinking along the same lines, the three of us decided to take action.
The Idea: A Conference With a Difference
You may have noticed that the majority of "famous polyglots" online are male, and that expert panels and line-ups can be dominated by these voices. The media in particular pays more attention to male experts, even though statistically our field is full of females too.
We decided to create of a new event full of fresh voices and perspectives. To create a movement where female experts are part of the norm. We decided to list and contact the many female speakers we know, and to create a platform that is open for all of them to showcase their unique talents and views.
Women in Language 2018
Women in Language is a unique online event designed to champion, celebrate, and amplify the voices of women in language learning.
It starts on 8 March - International Women's Day 💐 - and runs online for 4 days. So that's 8-11 March 2018.
If you want to join us, click here get your ticket today from www.womeninlanguage.com.
You can attend from the comfort of your sofa, and with your ticket you gain access to every single live talk and recording with famous polyglots, world travellers, teachers, translators, interpreters, and linguists counting over 15 years in the business.
The price of $29 comes in at just over $1 per session, and with your tickets we included a few special extras.
- You do not have to be glued to the screen for 4 days straight, as your ticket price already includes access to all conference recordings.
- As well as the live speaker presentations, there’s also a private Facebook community where you can connect with other language learners and speakers, up to 6 weeks after the event.
- If you're a note-taker like me, we've got you covered with the digital Women in Language notebook where you can capture the inspiration you will gain at the conference.
- One last thing before I go today: 10% of all profits of our event will go to the charity Kiva, a charity creating opportunities for entrepreneurs across the globe.
I can't wait to meet you at this online celebration of female voices in language learning.
Of course, you may still have a few open questions. Here's some of our FAQ, and feel free to comment below to find out more.
How Does An Online Conference Work?
All of our sessions will be broadcast live. Click here to check out the schedule (on the left). After you purchase your ticket, you will gain access to each talk and chatroom which goes live at the time advertised.
But we understand you're busy and that your timezone may not match the speaker's, so we also give you access to every session recording to watch at your leisure.
You do not need to dress smart casual and can attend from anywhere in the world.
Is This Event Open to Women Only?
Absolutely not. Men are not just welcome, they are needed to show that equality and (dare I say it) feminism benefit all of us.
No matter who you are, this line up of world-class experts will inspire you and share their best tips and secrets for becoming fluent in a language, creating language careers, and living as a polyglot. I can't wait to welcome you.
Is This an Event About Language Learning Or About Being Women?
This is an event where women talk about language learning. You care about learning a language and want to hear from experts who share the best techniques and experiences, so that's what we found for you.
Creating a space for reflection on life as a female has given us a few interesting extra spaces - from a talk about motherhood to Round Table discussions reflecting on whether women do anything differently in language learning. Join us to find out the answers!
If you're excited about the event, it's worth getting your ticket early so you can join our discussions before the conference on Facebook and elsewhere (#womeninlanguage). Click here to get your ticket right away.
I'm looking forward to hearing your comments on the #womeninlanguage hashtag, and of course right here on the blog.