5 Favorites from Womensphere Global Summit 2014

A bit of time has passed since I had the amazing opportunity to attend the 5th Annual Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit 2014 in NYC. It’s never too late to share reflections and inspiration, so I’d like to revisit five favorites from Womensphere.


  1. Lead by being different.

Men and women are different as leaders. Whether the presenters were discussing a new model of leadership, online media presence, or transforming pain to power-the consensus was clear: It is our differences that make us powerful. Define your own voice and the way it’s being heard. YK Hong, Multi-media visual artist & fashion designer, reminded us that “We are the architect of our own brand.” In my work with emerging leaders, I’m applying my learnings from the Summit and teaching youth to effectively utilize social media. This means building their networks, making connections, and sharing their values with the world. Technology has broken down barriers to communication and has empowered young people to “DIY” and become experts in anything! I ask my high school and college students: What does your profile say about you? How does your Linked In profile appear to employers? What messages do your tweets send to the world?

2. Numbers matter. As numbers change, policies will change. Diversify your friends, staff, life!

Multiple presenters urged women to consider running for office. Victoria Budson, Executive Director of the Women & Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School of Government shared that more women in executive positions will impact women’s issues, specifically women suffering for leaving workforce to have children. On the subject of diversifying your life, Diane Brady, Senior Editor of Bloomberg Business Week, suggested that people should be forced to travel abroad, and she quotes “Comfort the conflicted. conflict the uncomfortable.”

3. Passion and purpose are more important than balance. Most women don’t have a choice.

As we continue with the age old work/life balance debate, it’s important to be reminded of the big picture. Between Yasmine Ergas, Associate Director at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights Director at Columbia University, sharing statistics on women ironing children’s chests due to gender inequity and Saran Kaba Jones’, CEO & Founder of FACE Africa, data about death due to lack of access to clean water, we remember to be grateful that our hardships are rarely impacting our basic human needs. Deborah Jackson, CEO & Founder of Plum Alley, echoed this sentiment by urging us to gain perspective on the bad things that happen and ask ourselves: Will this really matter?


4. Be your own best advocate.

Pat Mitchell, CEO of Paley Center for Media, walked us through a salary negotiation. While we hope gender expectations evolve in the future, women need to be mindful of how their assertiveness may be perceived in the workplace. We must mitigate the backlash by asking in a certain way that is relational and within the expectations of how women are expected to behave. By including comments like, “I am so pleased to join your team…” this will ensure you are more likely to be heard and not put people off. Diane Brady, providing a journalists perspective on leadership, expressed the need for more women to bring their ideas to the table. We must put ourselves out there and stop being so hard on ourselves. Women think they will get leadership roles based on merit, but we need to be better at asking for opportunities.

5. Be sharing and giving with your network.

This was another thread that united all of the presenters  at the Summit. Whether discussing how to leverage social media to connect and engage with leaders in your field or emphasizing the importance of mentorship, and establishing partnerships: technology has transformed and expanded what’s possible for our relationships. As someone who loves connecting with new people and discovering exciting professional opportunities, I now make sure to always ask myself how can I add value to [So and So’s] professional endeavors. Since the Summit, I  have been sharing dozens of job opportunities with my networks. I know how much I appreciated people who did this while I was in transition/seeking new opportunities.

There was a lot to love about this Summit. From the efficient table rotations to the thoughtful panels and career exploration opportunities.  One of my favorite parts of this Summit was experiencing women’s leadership from so many viewpoints. Further collaboration between the various industries represented at the Summit is essential for progress to be made on all global and domestic issues. We’ve got a lot to learn from each other, and I’m hoping to see more folks from the healthcare industry represented next year. Womensphere embodies the movement at large in how it was inclusive and committed to developing the skills of emerging leaders.

Jocelyn Schur is a entrepreneur, business owner at Schur Consultations, and soon to be Smith School of Social Work student.  She can be reached at SchurConsultations@gmail.com or http://www.JocelynSchur.com. She looks forward to your comments and  feedback!


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