“I’ve noticed so many amazing women throughout the years aren’t applying or putting their name out there, and feel as though they’re not an expert to speak on a certain topic. I truly think that comes down to imposter syndrome,” says Anoop Virk, executive producer of TEDxWhistler. 

The reality of imposter syndrome is not a new concept, but its prevalence with women in leadership has only grown. According to a 2020 study by KPMG, 75% of executive women identify as having experienced it throughout their careers. The study described imposter syndrome as “the inability to believe your success is deserved as a result of your hard work and the fact you possess distinct skills, capabilities and experiences.” Instead, you assume that your success was based on luck, or some other external happenstance unrelated to your credentials. 

“How do we close this gap? I don’t want to have this be a reality,” says Virk. Her work towards having a gender-equal stage reflects where TEDx is headed, and opening up their speaker applications further addresses the need for women to empower women. “We’ve opened this up to the communities—anyone can apply, from any different background or industry.” 

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“This year has been very challenging for all of us,” says Virk. “I think it’s important to bring the community together to highlight the amazing thought-leaders we have who are doing great work, and celebrate them as they grace our stage, and honour them.” Virk has been receiving lots of positive feedback, and the applications are already beginning to come in.

Virk was the first-ever female executive producer for TEDxVancouver, and with over 40 million video views and a successful 10 years behind her, she’s prepared to build that momentum with the local community in Whistler this coming fall. Headlining the event is Jillian Harris, founder and creative director of Jillian Harris Design and host of HGTV’s Love It or List It Vancouver. Harris was also the lead for ABC’s The Bachelorette in 2009. 

The virtual event is set to have 10-12 speakers, who will be hand-selected by the female-led executive team. Absolutely anyone can apply or be nominated, and applications are open now until March 26th.