Dear 40 under 40 leaders…

…no, I will not apply. I replied privately to four of you already, and I thought I’d make this public to avoid any misunderstanding : I’m not interested. I work incredibly hard. I am proud of my career so far and I plan on taking it further. I’m also interested in social change, as you claim to be, and that is precisely why I won’t try to be a part of the 40 under 40. That doesn’t mean I’m not ambitious. It just means I have enough privilege to skip misogynistic programs.

Some context, in case you missed it :

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Three white men decide to launch a 40 under 40 network. They gathered a jury of 40 experts which are — you guessed it — mostly cis men.

By the way, some of these men had previously pledged to only attend gender balanced events.

They launched a website, and I selected a few quotes to underline their audacity :

We proposed to identify 40 emerging leaders below 40 years old who would join forces and think together how to address complex societal issues.

Not to sound bitter, but how about you start by addressing the very simple issue of your male panel before trying to tackle anything bigger ?

Selection will be based on profile, motivation, thematic interests, and diversity criteria.

Seriously ? It’s almost hard not to be cynical. This criteria should be applied to your jury, not merely your participants.

With media supporters De Tijd and L’Echo, you will have an exceptional platform to enhance your visibility and share your ideas broadly, with the possibility to publish articles, op-ed, videos and other media content.

Read : L’Echo and De Tijd see no issue in letting a homogenous group decide on who will publish in their newspaper. In 2020. How progressive.

I won’t applaud the energy some of these men spend in trying to get women to apply, when they’re unable to look at their own side of the table and address the jury situation. Please don’t contact me about this until half of the men get out of that list to make space for the women they excluded. It’s not a compliment to ask me to participate, it’s offensive.

I don’t attend all male panels. And I certainly don’t have patience nor respect for the men who do. This is close to being one. None of these men decided to revoke participation upon seeing this scandalous ratio, yet they expect women to compete to receive coaching from them. I don’t want coaching from sexist men. And by staying in a panel that has 33 men and 6 women, that’s what you are.

This still has the potential of being a great initiative. I hope you’ll take the high road and fix it, otherwise it’s just embarrassing.

**Update** : we wrote an open letter with the cool kids, join us :