Women’s Conferences: Are They Worth It?
In a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article titled “The Feel-Good Female Solidarity Machine,” the publication recognized the growing popularity (and price tags) of women’s conferences around the world.
“Feminism is being branded and sold like never before. Who is it really helping?” Businessweek asks. Whether businesses’ marketing tactics to jump on the female empowerment bandwagon are genuine or fruitful is hard to prove, but as for the efficacy of these conferences in building confidence and providing practical tools to women attendees, that’s something we’re all for. By invigorating female business networks and inspiring attendees to do more, these conferences can be helpful tools that, like any service, come at a price.
While it’s not fiscally sustainable to hop from one feel-good conference to the next, we narrowed down the seven conferences around the globe that are actually worth the price tag. Get your business cards ready: It’s time to mingle with inspiration.
Searching for: Ways to improve gender equality
Go to: Jump Forum
Based in three cities across France, Jump Forum is the event for advancing gender equality at work. This year’s Brussels program features a 10th-anniversary special-edition conference titled “Wo.Men, Work, World: The Unfinished Revolution.” This detail-oriented conference focuses on giving participants the tools and strategies to bridge the gender gap in their own lives with workshops like “Your Impactful Pitch: Convince Anyone of Anything (Almost) Every Time,” “The Role of Employee Networks in Your Diversity Strategy,” and “From Unconscious Bias to Conscious Action.” If you’re committed to gender equality, this is the conference for you.
Date: TBA; Brussels, Belgium
Cost: Not available yet
Searching for: Collaboration with like-minded women
Go to: S.H.E. Summit
This summit is more than a conference, it’s a movement that encourages women to “collaborate to accelerate.” S.H.E. Summit encapsulates what it means to be a modern feminist. It’s a congregation of women who seek to educate and learn from one another about the movements changing the world for women today. It’s also a place for women to help one another excel by sharing their own stories of success and failure. One past participant praised the event as follows: “…with the resources and connections I’ve met through [Claudia Chan, the event founder], our business has grown, and I feel that much better taking on the day-to-day challenges of building a startup.” Past speakers include Reshma Saujani, the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code; Deepak Chopra; and Lauren Bush Lauren, founder and CEO of FEED Projects.
Date: October 6–7, 2016; New York City
Searching for: Power networking
Go to: Inc. Women’s Summit
Inc. Women’s Summit is all about power networking. Pay for a day to get in the room with veteran female entrepreneurs like Barbara Corcoran, this year’s keynote speaker and our favorite “shark” on ABC’s Shark Tank. This conference isn’t just about panel speakers and keynote addresses. It’s about attendees interacting with each other over lunch, cocktail hours, and interactive breakout sessions. Come prepared with specific business questions, and be ready to gain a lot of feedback from your peers and successful entrepreneurs you admire.
Date: November 3, 2016; New York City
Searching for: Ingenious ways to manage time
Go to: TEDWomen
TED Talks not only inspire us, they teach us something that we can implement in our daily lives. TEDWomen is TED Talks on steroids. It’s a three-day conference about the power of women and girls to be creators and change-makers. Each year, TEDWomen centers around a theme. Last year it was momentum. This year, the theme is time. TEDWomen is about asking and answering the difficult questions, provoking dramatic yet honest stories, and brainstorming solutions to figure out how to better our lives and the world through technology and design. Timely discussion topics center around questions like “How can we be fully present for ourselves as well as others?” and “How can we find long-term solutions to climate change, poverty, and immigration?” You’ll walk away with answers.
Date: October 26–28, 2016; San Francisco
Searching for: Digital entrepreneur tips and Instagrammable décor
Go to: Create & Cultivate
The mission of Create & Cultivate, a content site and event series, is bringing together female entrepreneurs in the digital space. Their pop-up events are chock-full of digital leaders (our own co-founders included!), with their blog pumping out helpful tips for budding female entrepreneurs everywhere. Their next conference will be in downtown Los Angeles, and the one-day affair includes over 13 hours of programming. Panel discussions led by some of L.A.’s most notable bloggers and influencers, mentoring sessions with female founders, and a keynote address with none other than Chelsea Handler are all on the impressive itinerary. Besides fruitful discussion and inspirational stories, expect an Instagram-perfect event. The Create & Cultivate team doesn’t mess around when it comes to flawless styling and eye-catching event curation. Check out its social media presence to understand the true meaning of perfection.
Date: May 6, 2016; Los Angeles
Searching for: A global impact
Go to: Women in the World Summit
Media savant Tina Brown started this conference seven years ago, saying it spotlights issues that mainstream media typically avoids. She says the summit “brings together women leaders, activists, artists, CEOs, peacemakers, entrepreneurs, trailblazers, and firebrand dissidents from around the world who have saved or enriched lives and shattered glass ceilings in every sector.” With a global outlook and a dedication to the power of storytelling from women on the front lines of media, Women in the World exemplifies how strong female voices can make a global difference. We go to this conference to be inspired by women that are actively making the world a better place every single day. Recent speakers included Meryl Streep, First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, and Diane von Furstenberg.
Date: April 6–8, 2016; New York City
Searching for: Networking opportunities with top business leaders
Go to: Most Powerful Women Summit
Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit began 17 years ago as a list that identified the most powerful women in the world. Since then, the list has grown into a franchise of conferences that bring together the world’s top business experts, policy makers, and leaders. First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. General Attorney Loretta Lynch, and international lawyer Anne-Marie Slaughter are some of the notable names featured at last year’s conference. Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit does more than inspire women—it gives its attendees the tools to practice high-level networking, engage in interactive breakout sessions with industry leaders, and gain insights from intense one-on-one interviews with female trailblazers.
Date: October 17–19, 2016; Laguna Niguel, CA
Cost: $8900 registration fee (guests must be invited, but you can apply here)
Remember what you learn by taking notes in one of our favorite journals below.
If you could see anyone speak in person, who would it be?