Do Men Make More Than Women in the Meetings Industry?

Our salary survey couldn't give us statistically reliable answer. But it probably is yes.

The results of our annual Salary Survey, published in Convene’s June issue indicate that men in the meetings industry make more money  — $30,000 more per year, on average — than women.

We’ve been hesitant to make this a rallying cry, because the results might be skewed by of a number of factors: the men who responded to our survey could have more experience/credentials/education compared with the women, or more men might work in roles that require greater responsibility, or live in areas where salaries are higher. In other words, it could be that gender has little to do with why the males who respond to our survey make more money than the women respondents.

We also have resisted drawing conclusions from the data for another reason: Only 36 males responded to this year’s survey, compared to 316 females (which accurately reflects that meeting professionals are predominantly women). And when you slice and dice such a small sample size, you get numbers that are too low to be statistically reliable, according to Lewis Copulsky, principal of market research company Lewis&Clark.

Nonetheless, Lewis — who compiles the data for all of Convene‘s surveys, including our Salary Survey — obliged my request to compare the male respondents by salary to the female respondents according to age, title, CMP designation, geographic area, and management responsibility. The result? “At least on an anecdotal level,” Lewis said, “it does seem that men’s salaries tend to be higher even when controlled for other factors.”

Here’s how it breaks down:

Age The survey had no male respondents in their 20s; we had 36 females in this age group. Male respondents in their 30s (there were 8) earned a median salary of $92,500; female respondents (numbering 77) earned $65,000. In their 40s, men (13) earned the same median salary as in their 30s; women (87) earned $77,500. The really significant differential takes place among respondents in their 50s and 60s: Male respondents in their 50s (10) earned a median salary of $135,000 compared to the median salary of $77,500 of their similarly aged female counterparts (88). And those in their 60s (5) earned nearly double that of the women (28) in this age group: $112,000 vs. $65,000.

CMP Male respondents with a CMP (15) earned an average salary of $110,500; women with a CMP (147) earned $79,711. Take that designation out of the equation, and men without a CMP (21) still earn more than women without a CMP (169): $103,452 vs. $66,938.

Title Six male respondents identified themselves as association executives; 17 women checked off that title in the survey. Male association executives earned an average salary of $127,500; female association execs earned $111,176. Association meeting professional: males (15) earned an average salary of $99,667 vs. the women (156) who earned $69,391.

The only category in which women were compensated more than the men? Corporate meeting professional — men (3) earned $70,833 vs. women (72) in this role, who earned $73,750. Not to overgeneralize, but it seems ironic to me that the corporate world would be better about fairly compensating women than the association world.

It turns out that when factoring for every other variable — including geography and whether respondents supervise staff or not — men earn a higher salary than their female counterparts.

In our June cover story and interview with Lilly Ledbetter, we address the reality of pay inequity in the overall workplace. Do you think pay inequity is indeed an issue in our own industry? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.