Posted By - Kate Spencer On June 03, 2015


TEDWomen held a three-day conference May 27- 29 in Monterey, CA, to talk about the power of women and girls to be creators and change-makers. 

2015 Conference Highlights include:

Roxane Gay

Author of "Bad Feminist," her 2014 book of essays, and the novel An Untamed State.  Her next book, Hunger, will be released by Harper in 2016.

With passionate opinions about gender equality, Roxanne Gay had resigned herself to the idea that she just wasn’t doing feminism “right”.  Feminism has become an accusation, the “f” word, and maybe she wasn’t militant enough. Here is what she said at TedWomen:

I hold certain truths to be self-evident: Women are equal to men; we have the right to move through the world as we choose, to be free from harassment or violence; we have the right to easy, affordable access to birth control; we have the right to make choices about our bodies, free from legislative oversight; we have the right to respect.

If a woman wants to take her husband’s name, that is her choice and it is not my place to judge. If a woman chooses to stay home to watch her children, I support that too, so what’s the rub? The problem is that our society is set up to make women economically vulnerable when they make that kind of decision.

Fact is, too many women are afraid to be known as feminists. When Beyoncé projected the word behind her at the 2014 MTV Awards, the ensuing discussion was not about how awesome the musician was, but about how good she was at being a feminist. Instead of taking a grown, accomplished woman at her word, Beyoncé got judged. We do the same of anyone who dares to stand up for women’s rights, says Gay. We demand perfection; we go far beyond constructive criticism to create a culture and atmosphere of fear that promptly attracts no one.

“I am just a woman. I am a bad feminist and a good woman. I am trying to become better in how I think and say and do — without abandoning what makes me human.” 

She concluded with a bow, to a standing ovation.

Margaret Heffernan

Former CEO of five businesses, Margaret Heffernan explores the all-too-human thought patterns -- like conflict avoidance and selective blindness -- that lead managers and organizations astray.

Work, the ultimate social experience. Margaret Heffernan flips our thinking on what makes teams productive. It isn’t about brilliant individuals — it’s about a cohesive group working well together. She shares an MIT study that asked hundreds of volunteers to solve problems in groups. What did the most successful groups have in common? Not high IQs, not star leaders. Instead, they had high social sensitivity to each other, they were not dominated by a single voice and they contained more women. 

“What happens between people counts. In groups highly attuned and sensitive to each other, ideas can flow and people don’t get stuck. Companies don’t have ideas. Only people do. And what motivates people are the bonds of loyalty and trust they develop around each other. We need to redefine leadership as an activity in which conditions are created so everyone can do their most courageous thinking together.”

Michael Kimmel

The author of "Angry White Men," Michael Kimmel is a pre-eminent scholar of men and masculinity. He’s the executive director of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University, where he is also Distinguished University Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies.

Gender inequality is bad for men and he spoke about recruiting men to support gender equality. Kimmel says that he generally hears two reactions from men when the problem of gender equality comes up—a smug “thanks, we’ll take it from here,” which leads to “premature self congratulation,” or else an assumption that equality comes to the detriment of men. That is not the case, he says. “If you listen to what men want in their lives, gender equality is a way to get it,” he says. 

Countries with greater equality report higher levels of happiness, businesses with greater equality have employees who have higher job satisfaction, and the more egalitarian our relationships, the happier both partners are.”You have to start calculating how much gender inequality is already costing you,” says Kimmel.

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