While it’s true that #BlogathonATX is an awesome conference, we recognize that we’re not the only game in town. In fact, Austin is home to some fantastic conferences & festivals throughout the year, not the least of which is the Texas Conference for Women. This year, Ilene Haddad and I attended together and spent the day soaking in the girl power. (Ilene even got interviewed on KVUE by the awesome Quita Culpepper!)
The TCF is an annual summit of women from all over the state, featuring more than 100 speakers in keynotes and breakout sessions that are geared to women at all stages in their education & careers. There’s also an expo with all kinds of products & services designed by and for women. This year’s lunchtime keynote was by actress Patricia Arquette, who has a reputation for speaking out on women’s issues in that notoriously male-dominated town called Hollywood. Arquette urged the passage of the Equal-Rights Amendment, emphasized the need for gender-pay equality and criticized the efforts to limit access to healthcare for low-income women (and for that matter, men).
The 7,000 women who attended the conference this year spanned the ethnic, political and social spectrum of Texas. There were attendees who came from local high schools, and those whose focus was career transitions after an already long and successful career. I had a chance to meet briefly with Lani Rosales, COO of The American Genius, an Austin-based media organization for small business owners & entrepreneurs. Rosales is also the founder of the popular Austin Digital Jobs Facebook group, and had just hosted a panel about ‘Advancing Your Career’ when I tracked her down.
“I like coming to this specific conference because it’s one of the few where I can find naysayers…I can find people who are willing to mythbust,” Rosales told me when I asked why she comes to the Texas Conference for Women. “Most women’s conferences fall very short. There’s a lot of cheerleading and ‘kumbaya’ and not really much after that. I keep coming to this conference because even at my stage in my career, I can find something to latch on to and take action on. The stuff I learn here actually changes the course of my career.”
The Texas Conference of Women is a huge conference and might feel a bit daunting (especially if you’re used to #BlogathonATX!), but if you’ve got some friends with you, it can feel intimate and fun. Need proof? Here’s some of the live-stream from the day (see below), featuring @IleenieWeenie & @Hipstercrite!