If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably noticed that a little thing called the #STFSummit is coming up in less than two weeks! I’ve shared some of what I’m most looking forward to (the wise and witty Jennifer Romolini, performances by Sarah Jones and Grace Kelly, and seeing the STF family in person, just to name a few), but for the next few minutes, I want to tell you what you absolutely won’t get from this year’s event.
“Manels” and false diversity
When we talk about diversity in a conference setting, a lot of people miss the point. A panel of people of different races who all hail from the same industry, socioeconomic background, academic background, or who all share the same political beliefs isn’t diverse just because the speakers don’t look alike. Our lineup includes powerhouse women and men representing a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and areas of expertise because that’s how you create compelling conversation. And of course, there isn’t a single panel made up of old white men. But I think you already knew that one.
Preaching to the choir
I recently attended a conference for women in tech, where the organizers managed the extraordinary feat of bringing together tons women from top tech companies in NYC. And then, rather than taking advantage of the sheer power of this room, they conducted three consecutive panels about the need to bring more women into the tech field. Not only was this repetitive and boring, it left a cloud over the room -- we had come together knowing there was a problem to solve, and left three hours later without making any progress.
I don’t know all of our attendees personally, but since they’re making the time to come to the Summit, I can only assume they are brilliant, talented, and have great hair. Which is why we’re not going to waste time explaining to them that gender equality and activism are important. Instead, we’re going to present new ways of thinking about these issues and offer innovative solutions for tackling them.
I’m a frequent conference attendee because I love soaking up the energy in a room full of excited people. There’s really no other feeling like it. But what good is all that energy if you don’t channel it into action? This year, STF Summit attendees will leave with tangible ways to promote gender equality on their campus, in their workplace, and in their local community. One of those ways is through the brand new STF Action Network, which I have the honor of officially launching at this year’s event. The Action Network is a free, accessible platform to give anyone anywhere the tools and resources they need to be a better advocate for women and girls. Because activism is for everyone.
Thanks to Tammy Tibbetts and Leonora Fleming for inspiring this post!