Katie McCrory is the co-founder of a new, regular, English-language talks programme designed to give female speakers a new space to share their stories – Copenhagen Salon Series. By profiling women across a range of sectors and backgrounds, the salon is designed to spark conversations, debate and new ideas – in Copenhagen, and beyond. The events are led by women and open to all.
What is a salon anyways?
A salon is simply about bringing people together through conversation – something that’s been happening for hundreds of years. Salons are typically hosted by someone – historically, more often by women – and should give people the sense that they’ve had a good time and learned something new. Beyond that, there are no rules. Salons come in all shapes and sizes, and can be as inclusive or exclusive as you like.
Why did you start the Copenhagen Salon Series?
I’ve always believed that if you can’t find the thing you need, you should create it yourself. As a new arrival in Copenhagen, I was struggling to find English-language events that catered to my wide range of interests and gave me the chance to make new contacts. I was fortunate to be introduced to Isabella Smith, the founder of Books and Company, and together we created a new kind of event format that we would really want to go to – the best litmus test for a new idea. In fact, creating things that don’t exist seems to be a trait that unites Isabella and I – it was the same reason she launched Books and Company.
Why focus on women?
The Copenhagen Salon Series is led by female speakers but open to anyone as a guest, so in that sense it’s really about opening up rather than focusing in. For me, there are two motivating reasons for asking women to start our salon conversations. First, as a corrective to the overwhelming number of international conferences, panels, talks and events that have significantly more male than female speakers – this is as problematic in Copenhagen as any other city I’ve attended events in. And second, to share the kinds of stories that might not find their way into regular events, either because women are less likely to put themselves forward or because their experiences are multifaceted and don’t fit into a single category. I want to break down the myth that when women speak, they can only speak for other women on issues that relate to their gender. We never assume the same of men. So hosting a salon like ours feels like a constructive way to address that.
What’s your background and why did you move to Denmark?
I moved to Denmark with my husband about 18 months ago, having lived and worked in London for almost 10 years. Looking back, it was quite a madcap idea – we had no friends, family, jobs or connections in Copenhagen, but we decided to pack up all our belongings and take a one-way flight to a place we believed would give us the quality of life we desperately lacked in London. It was the best decision we ever made.
In terms of my background, most of my work to date has been within communications and innovation, which means I’ve cut across lots of industries, sectors and regions. And it’s always the same – exceptional female talent at every level, but so few women speaking up and out. There are complex reasons for this, ranging from capacity to confidence, so in 2012 I co-founded a salon concept called Big Blonde with a great friend of mine, and together we sought to address some of those challenges. The Copenhagen Salon Series builds on that experience in addition to the wealth of knowledge that Isabella brings.
How has the move to Denmark affected your views on gender, feminism etc?
That’s a big question, and something I reflect on a lot. I am very surprised that there isn’t a more ‘live’ conversation about gender equality in Denmark – particularly around intersectionality – given how politically progressive the country is compared to our peers in the UK and US, and much of Europe. I’ve had a couple of experiences since moving here which suggest a prevailing attitude that feminism is redundant in Denmark – that we’re in some kind of post-feminist era – and I couldn’t disagree more. Despite the great advances in social attitudes and benefits, women in Denmark are still discriminated against every day. Just as one example, look at the fact that Danish women are paid 16 percent less than men for the same work, and even though they make up almost half the total workforce only 28 percent of management positions in Denmark are held by women. The numbers become even starker when you look at how race, education, religion, and socio-economic background play out in this space. This isn’t just a problem for women, this is a problem for men too – nobody benefits when things are so unequal. No matter your position, you can’t deny that this merits an ongoing conversation.
Why should someone go to the salon?
To learn, get inspired, meet new people and have some fun. Simple as that!