By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
The good news is it’s not too late to pack a swimsuit, book a flight and grab a late working holiday before the busy fall season kicks in. The 2016 World Investigators Conference --an event that occurs only once every five to six years-- runs August 16th through August 19th and only costs $495. Best of all, there is still room for last-minute registrants.
The two-day event takes place at La Toretta Lake Resort and Spa in Montgomery, Texas, just North of Houston. Recreational activities include a nightclub party, barbeque bash and gun tournament. Firearms and barbeque not your thing? The organizers also encourage participants to bring spouses and/or kids so you can alternately take advantage of the waterskiing, golfing and fishing facilities or checkout the nearby waterpark and onsite spa.
During the day you’ll attend workshops with world-renowned investigators from locations ranging from Mexico and The Caribbean to Canada and the U.K. Topics range from surveillance and public records searches to privacy law, personal protection and conflict resolution. With such a regionally and topically diverse lineup, what could possibly be missing?
Start by browsing through the photos and bios of the speakers. Notice anything? If the gender disparity went over your head you are not alone. Organizers Jimmie Mesis and Robert Allen didn’t notice it either. In fact, the oversight apparently went unacknowledged until senior civil, business, criminal and insurance background investigator Harriet Gold, pointed out she will be the only woman of thirty-three people speaking at the conference. “We were like wow,” said Conference Committee Chairman, Robert Allen who says he hadn’t caught the “one-woman thing until it was pointed out by Harriet. It was a major oops on us that we only ended up with one female.”
It is not the first occurrence of a gender disparity oops. In May, according to the BBC, "some of Australia's most-booked male conference speakers criticized organizers for setting up "dude fests" and reacted by pledging to boycott panels that don't include women. "No thanks, mate," the website set up to house the pledges, includes notes from signatories encouraging gender diversity on grounds that it brings intelligence, balance and depth to discussions; raises the collective I.Q. and helps to defray inherent biases.
“We don’t want someone who has never spoken before” Allen told me when I asked why only one of the speakers was female, “all the speakers we have are dynamic speakers. No one’s going to be bored.” He said that he couldn’t change anything because “It was so late in the game. Some of these people they booked their flights three months in advance. So I couldn’t ask them to rebook.”
The only known nationwide estimate I found on the gender breakdown in the private investigator industry was published by conference co-sponsor PI Magazine who estimated 15% of the approximate 60,000 private investigators in the United States are women. That’s not a lot but if this ratio had been applied, five of the speakers would have been women rather than one.
When I asked Allen for a nationwide private investigator industry male/female breakdown he responded, “no one has a firm answer but a good guess is 35% to 40%.” Apply Allen's guesstimated ratio to a thirty-three speaker conference and you’d have thirteen female speakers rather than one.
Assuring me this will never happen again Allen added, “I’ve always made sure my daughter meets women of power. The first female firefighter, police captain, the first female sheriff who happened to be a retired general. It was important my daughter met these people.”
If he makes good on his promise to bring more gender diversity to future events, he'll be able to introduce his daughter to more female private investigator industry conference speakers, as well.
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