And then there are the ones all the money in the world can’t get you into. (I’m joking: all the money would probably do the trick.) The Makers conference, a weekend filled with advice from the likes of Sheryl Sandberg, Gloria Steinem, and Martha Stewart, is invite-only, as is the Forbes Women’s Summit, “Power Redefined.”
In The New York Times on Sunday, Jessica Bennett wrote about the rise of conference feminism, which has replaced grassroots gatherings with “commercial enterprises: star-studded events with corporate sponsors like Toyota and Walmart.” Just envision Jennifer Aniston interviewing Gloria Steinem at a conference you can’t go to, sponsored by American Express and AOL.
These conferences reflect a new and increasingly dominant wave of the women’s movement, one that has trained its top-shelf gimlet-eye on getting more women in positions of power. This corporate feminism, which already has a manifesto in Sheryl Sandberg’s best-selling book Lean In, is important and not without an audience. The gender gap is still gaping at the top, with women making up less than 5 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies, and not doing much better in other arenas like media, film, and politics.