This week saw the birth of a historical feminist movement dubbed The United State of Women. Organized by the White House, the inaugural summit brought together over 5000 activists, thought leaders, and humanitarians to discuss the greatest issues and obstacles facing women today (with Beyoncé's "Run the World" playing in the background). Together with Michelle and Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Kerry Washington, Meryl Streep, Tina Fey, and more, attendees tackled complex issues such as violence and rape culture, the gender wage gap, and educational opportunities for women around the world.
After a day of inspiring speakers, stimulating panel discussions, and an emotional keynote from Vice President Joe Biden, attendees gathered at the Above the Glass/WeWork/Percena after-party in Washington, D.C., to reflect on the united state of women today. Here are a few of the many inspiring reflections, reactions, and calls-to-action we overheard at the after-party:
"We as women face criticism, unlike men. I was working at the White House in the early days when Michelle Obama was called angry. She's nothing of the sort. She's the warmest, most lovely advocate, and I was lucky to have gotten to work alongside the President and First Lady for eight years. I can only imagine what Hillary Clinton and other passionate first ladies face. Before you criticize any woman based on popular opinion or rumors, know it's probably ill-informed. It's high time folks stop calling us angry and start calling us passionate." — Johanna Maska, former White House staff member
"When you gather a bunch of thought leaders and ambitious people together, it's hard not to feel a sense of underlying competition. But at this summit, you couldn't help but absorb the spirit of collaboration, of support, of teamwork. That's where we as women have a leg up; everyone came to learn and to build relationships and to be inspired. Our power is in how we bolster each other up, and today was a really beautiful example of women caring for women." — Chloe Sacks, ATTN:
"I think one of our top priorities as women—one that we may not even realize—is to be well liked. That doesn't help us; in fact, it hurts in accomplishing our goals. As women, we need to consciously and cognitively de-prioritize the need to be well-liked. It can be a priority—but it shouldn't be one of the top five." — Sally Smith, co-host of The Riveters podcast
"One interesting line that stuck with me was at a panel on investment, from a woman who had heard all sorts of pitches for financing. They said men walk in the room with bravado—about disrupting an industry, about high-dollar expectations—and women walk in and open with, 'Is now still a good time?' But then the women-run businesses they invest in are more likely to meet expectations. The facts speak for themselves—it's time investors start supporting women." — Johanna Maska
"At the center of the incredible speakers, the grand stage, and the diverse attendees was a sense of empowerment. The United State of Women summit created a space for women to share their stories on how, in almost every industry, field, and level, we see possibilities where others see problems. We are deliberate and afraid of nothing, and we expect to win, always. And while this inspirational day showcased the real progress we've made, there is still a long trail to blaze." — Stacy Rozen, Korn Ferry International
Did you attend the United State of Women summit? Share your favorite moments below, and pledge to do your part today.