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Are Women's Conferences Useful?


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When Superwomen of the World Dish Out Advice, Who Are They Helping? By LinkedIn senior editor Katrina Brooker

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"The first sign that one is at a women’s empowerment conference is that there are women on the stage at all... The second sign is the footwear. Picture a horizontal line of 4-inch stilettos, dangling at the eye level of the audience, as the women wearing them sit perched on stools. It appears that the first thing a successful, liberated woman does is slide her feet into the most gait-inhibiting shoes available, ideally in snakeskin."

When I read the opening lines of Sheelah Kolhatkar's latest Bloomberg Businessweek story, The Feel-Good Female Solidarity Machine, I laughed out loud. She nailed the irony of women-on-the-go going about business in shoes they can barely walk in.

Sheelah came by LinkedIn to talk about her story, which takes an inside look at the boom in women's empowerment conferences. Conferences that tout speakers like Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, or Ivanka Trump have become a big business. Every year, women pay huge sums to attend events such as Fortune's Most Powerful Women's Summit, TEDWomen, or Tina Brown's Women in the World. The National Football League held its first ever Women's Summit during Super Bowl Week. Tickets can cost up to $10,000 — especially if the event boasts marquee names like Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton. The idea is, learn how to get to the top from those already there. "I want to be inspired," one attendee told Sheelah.

Published in: Business
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