TEDxTO Strives for Equal Gender Representation

Last week, a group of volunteer programmers met to fill the remaining slots the Toronto edition of the global speakers’ series on “ideas worth spreading,” which will take place in October, marking the fourth annual event. In attempt to reflect the diversity of Toronto professionals, the volunteers addressed a dilemma: how to appeal to more women and make TEDx less male-dominated.

With a different theme each year, the TEDx programming team selects a handful of influential speakers, with an additional four slots allotted to speakers who are self-nominated. This year is the year of “alchemy.” The problem is that 75 per cent of the self-nominees tend to be male. 

Apparently the lack of women speakers is nothing new and is a global problem. The challenge of finding community-nominated women was revealed in a recent summit held in Doha, Qatar that involved 800 TEDx organizers from around the world. The Toronto committee has since amplified its initiative to find new ways and strategies to connect with under represented groups, individuals, and ideas to ensure the most quality programming. 

The consensus reached among Toronto’s programmers was that more outreach to women’s community groups – including the Toronto Regional Champion Campaign, an organization that connects young women with mentors in city council – is imperative. By nominating strong people from the community, Toronto residents have the opportunity to help select and shape the ideas that go on stage every year.


Women can get involved by either filling out an application to speak, or filling out an application to nominate someone who is doing amazing work in finance, design, entrepreneurship and everything in between.

At Notable.ca we see first hand how many incredible young women across Canada are leading the way, making changes, and certainly living out their “ideas worth spreading.” 

Here are just a few female young professionals and young entrepreneurs that are making a mark in their respective careers (click on their name to learn more).

Laura Serra
Society gal Laura Serra covers some of Toronto’s best events for The Globe and Mail and also started a favourite YP charity, Paws for the Cause.

Melissa Grelo
Thousands of Torontonians start their day with Melissa Grelo, Co-Host of CP24 Breakfast. The York University and Seneca College alum informs and entertains with her captivating presence and contagious smile.


Angela Smith
As a producer and on-air fashion expert at ET Canada, you’ve probably seen Angela reporting on the latest fashion trend or schmoozing with celebrities on the red carpet. 

Corrine Rusch Drutz
Corrine Risch Drutz leverages technology, creating mobile apps and social media campaigns to drive social change to better the lives of women across Canada every day.

Erin Bury
At just 25 years old, Erin bury works for influential start-up Sprouter, a tech-based company which provides strategic connections for entrepreneurs. 


Marsha Doucette
Marsha Doucette is the Regional Coordinator at the Canadian Liver Foundation, where she does everything from organizing events to promoting liver disease awareness.

Holly King
After going on a volunteer trip to Mombasa in Kenya, Holly King realized that the staggering number of children that were uneducated was leading to some of the country’s major problems, including unemployment and prostitution. In knowing that something needed to be done, she began People for Change, a Canadian charity that is helping one dollar at a time.

Kimberly Moffit
Practically anywhere you look, you can find a trace of Kimberly Moffit’s work. Whether passing by her therapy business office at Yonge and Eglinton, watching her give relationship advice on Global News or reading her publications as the national spokesperson for Match.com, Kim’s got a lot that any young professional can learn from.


Kasondra Cohen
Kasondra is the President and CEO of Face of Today, a charitable foundation that provides underprivileged, aspiring youth with opportunities to be successful on a local and global scale.

Deborah McCracken
Deborah McCracken started The Olive Branch for Children in 2005. Since then, this 30-year-old inspiring woman has helped change the lives of many of Tanzania’s most vulnerable children, many of whom have lost their families due to, or are living with, HIV/AIDS.

Top photo courtesy TEDxTO
Second photo: Corrine Rusch Drutz, Laura Serra, Angela Smith
Third photo: Marsha Doucette, Erin Bury, Holly King
Fourth photo: Melissa Grelo
Last photo: Kasondra Cohen, Kimberly Moffit, Deborah McCracken