Pictured: North West MEP Julie Ward called the lack of women speakers at the conference "appalling"
A Northern Powerhouse conference has been criticised by MPs after all of its main advertised speakers were men.
The UK Northern Powerhouse conference and exhibition, which takes place at Manchester Central on February 21-22, attracted criticism after sending out a press release listing 15 speakers at the event – all of whom were men.
Labour MP and Greater Manchester mayoral candidate Andy Burnham tweeted “Good god, how embarrassing is this,” after seeing the release.
Julie Elliott, MP for Sunderland Central, called the release “staggering”, while North West MEP Julie Ward tweeted: “This is appalling & even worse that the organisers don't understand Y #women must be involved at every level. True #equality = everyone wins.”
Oldham MP Jim McMahon tweeted: “Agree it's very poor, I'll raise with organiser. Many excellent women leading the devolution debate.”
The conference, which aims to help attendees understand the scale and extent of the opportunities in the Northern Powerhouse, is set to feature a keynote discussion between Northern Powerhouse minister Andrew Percy MP and Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, moderated by the BBC’s John Humphrys.
Of the 98 speakers listed in the conference programme, just 13 are women, with several panel discussions featuring no women at all.
A spokesman for the organisers admitted that women had been “under-represented” as the programme came together, but added that they had already started a dialogue with commercial partners, advisory board members and sponsors to address the issue for next year’s event.