Like all systemic injustice, the reasons for leadership inequity are varied and complex. And while the fact that women earn an average 77 cents to a man's dollar for equal work may be a result of discriminatory business practices, it may also be a result of women simply not asking for what they want. It's often in our nature to apologize and make excuses when we feel as if we are asking for too much. It's my hope that we can help empower women to ask for what they want and to accelerate closing the gender-equality gap. Women should be encouraged to step outside of their comfort zone. We need to break long-held traditional roles, such as a bias for being "nice" at the negotiating table.
In addition to speakers such as Arianna Huffington, president of the Huffington Post Media Group, and advertising executive Charlotte Beers, the conference aims to teach techniques to combat wage inequities and to create supportive environments for women to practice using newfound skills. We will also showcase female role models who have overcome obstacles and earned a place of power. Finally, we will encourage candid discussions about the things women allow to hold us back from positions of leadership: family obligations, a distaste for seeming aggressive, fear of stepping outside conventional roles.
The conference will offer skill-building sessions on career advancement, negotiation, personal finance, reinvention, small business, volunteering, relationships, social media, and much more. Of course, these issues are important to men, too, and they are welcome to attend, because true prosperity is a direct result of our diversity. But, make no mistake, this event is dedicated to the success of women. We want to inspire and enable them to meet their personal and professional goals.
By supporting this conference and the women who attend, we support leadership and innovation, equity, and opportunity. And that can only help us all.
Leslie Stiles is the board president of the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, which will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. To register, visit www.paconferenceforwomen.org.