Towards the final few minutes of a tech-talk at a conference supporting women entrepreneurs, the speaker told everyone in the room to get up and repeat after her “I’m amazing, I’m strong, I’m resilient”. My knees gave up at the sound of that. My worst nightmares of deciding to go to a ‘Women-Focused’ event were coming true. I closed my eyes, slowly sank in my chair and prayed that the universe swallowed me whole. This was the second talk of a 2-day conference — A humiliating chant to set the course of a very long nightmare.
At my lunch table, an hour later, there were 5 other women. No men. Perhaps, it was ignorant of me to expect that. Nevertheless, the conversation centered around how it is so difficult for women entrepreneurs to get funding (which is true), how men don’t take women seriously at workplace (which is also true) and that women should support each other. While all of these were important topics, talking about this amongst women only made us look like Gossiping Housewives. Unless men, influential men at that, were to be pulled in on that table, talking about it felt like 2017. Had this been a heterosexual conference for entrepreneurs with a special mention or emphasis on minority founders (women, diverse groups of color, disability, sexual orientation etc), perhaps the message would have not only travelled far, the community as a whole would have celebrated the successes and struggles of minorities. A chant for a better future of our minority group grossly missed the point of ‘ Unity in Diversity’.
Distraught with that realization, I smiled while nodding in acknowledgement as someone talked and I worked on my ‘conference-grade’ cold vegetarian sandwich.