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Ode on a Bedbug

April 24, 2012

On April 6, 2012, meetings industry magazine Successful Meetings ran a story on the most influential people in the meetings industry.  Out of a total list of 25, they released the names of the first fourteen:

  1. Reggie Aggarwal
  2. Corbin Ball
  3. Ray Bloom
  4. Eduardo Chaillo
  5. Cimex lectularius
  6. Roger Dow
  7. Jack Dorsey
  8. Abdalla Salem El Badri
  9. Jim Evans
  10. Michael Gehrisch
  11. Richard Harper
  12. G.J. Hart
  13. Roger Helms
  14. Reid Huffman
All great people, probably very deserving, although I confess some are completely unknown to me.  But…

Notice anything odd?

Actually, three things.

First, the odd coincidence of almost half the list starting with the letter “R”. But that is just a coincidence.  Anyone notice this?  They are, with one glaring except, all men.  And then, there’s the bedbug. Yup, Cimex lectularius.

13 men.  No women.  One bedbug.

So, what gives?

Why are there no women? (BTW, Successful Meetings, which is releasing the rest of its list on a weekly basis, says that there are ten women on the list.  Just not alphabetically in the first half).  If you were blinking, you might have missed the conversation that followed.  Not just the fact that in an industry dominated by women (about 80% is the most recent estimate we could find), there seem to be no women of influence with names beginning with the letters A through J (Successful Meetings last update was the addition of a dead man, Steve Jobs), but WHY this might be so.  And this started a conversation.  Women, you, me, and others started speaking out. Using our voices to say


And this is half the battle.

Personally, I credit the bedbug.

And so….

I wrote an Ode.  To a bedbug.  An Ode is a poem meant to praise the subject of the title. With deep apologies to Keats, who wrote the famous, beautiful and timeless Ode on a Grecian Urn, from which this borrows shamelessly:

Ode on a Bedbug

Thou celebrated bug of influence

Thou demure denizen of the mattress

Sucker of glorious ruby-red human essence,

You trumped women like a duchess.

What fringe-legged legend guards our sleep?

Or, wakeful, haunts the pages

of magazines?  What truth is this?

Fame comes monthly, it comes in stages?

What do I hear? We all do weep.

We speak.  We Tweet. We do not dismiss.

Ah, happy, happy bugs! Thou cannot shed

your fame, nor ever bid the mattress springs adieu.

And, happy Cimex Lectalanus unwearied

Forever sucking blood forever new;

More happy bugs!  More happy, happy bugs!

Your fame hath brought focus to our voice

Which, silent no more, states our case.

And, listening, event professionals rejoice!

No bugs, no shrugs, no Bah! humbugs!

Your bloody fame we will displace!

Sustainable systems are diverse. Diversity is strength.  Women of the events industry, speak out!  Because you are influential.


Thank you, you bloody bedbug.

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