Where Are All the Women? (3 Experiments for You to Try)

I love a good list.

On Twitter, I am drawn to threads about ‘The Top Ten Whichever about Whatever!’ I like Instagram Carousels for this same reason. I can even get sucked into a juicy BuzzFeed list from time to time.

And, as I have waded into the ‘Personal-Development / Self-Improvement’, industry, I have experienced NO shortage of lists on these topics.

Jackpot for me!


I invite you to try these 3 little experiments:

Experiment #1

Search for:

Top Books/Speakers/Resources about Personal Development.

Notice anything?

Or should I say, notice the absence of anything?

That’s right, barely a woman in sight.

The Personal Development Industry is reported to be worth $40 billion dollars +, and women make up 70–80% of the target market… but the VAST majority of leaders are XY chromosomes. The first time I realized this was when I watched some Tony Robbins videos a couple of years ago. I was surprised to learn that no women were scheduled to speak at the day-long multi-speaker event — but the audience was filled with women.

As women, does it make sense to derive our “inspiration,” “motivation,” and “success-building” strategies from men?

If Mr. Robbins instructs ME (a woman) on how to succeed professionally and personally, he is not speaking from experience. His chances, as a white male, are very different from mine, as a female. He has no idea what I think at all. He has never been the only woman at a company or a member of a minority working in a field where white males dominate. He has never had to juggle a career, being a woman, and being a mother full-time (or, Buddha-forbid, a single mother of numerous children). He, therefore, has a very limited (and privileged) point of view.

My most recent final straw on this topic, (yes, this finish lines moves), was this past spring. I was invited to an online event being touted as ‘One of the Most Important, Influential Entrepreneurial Events of the Year. 10 Speakers, 10 Topics’.

I was jazzed to attend!

But upon further examination, I was disheartened.

Not. One. Woman.

(So no, I did not attend).

Experiment #2

  1. Search for ‘Best Self Improvement Books’.
  2. Search for ‘Best Self Improvement Books’, men.

Take note: there will be little change between the results of the first two queries.

3. Search for ‘Best Self Improvement Books’, women.

Ah ha. Quite a departure from the first search.

What does this reinforce? Men are the default. Women are the exception.

It’s a ‘Male. Unless Otherwise’ attitude.

Author Caroline Criado Perez, in her book Invisible Women, writes:

“The result of this deeply male-dominated culture is that the male experience, the male perspective, has come to be seen as universal, while the female experience — that of half the global population, after all — is seen as, well, niche.”

Experiment #3

Last experiment, and probably the one that packs the most punch for me:

  1. Do an image search for ‘nurse’.
  2. Do an image search for ‘sexy nurse’.

Now you have found the women.



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Sunny McGaw

Sunny McGaw

Advocate for Women in Leadership //. Entrepreneurship, productivity, having more success and fun. TEDx Speaker + Host // Co-founder, Ivan Joseph Leadership.