Arianna Huffington after the closing panel at BlogHer06. Photo by Elise Bauer.
Well, a week has passed since BlogHer06, and I have finally recovered my voice, worn hoarse by two days and 3 nights of almost non-stop interaction with the hundreds of intelligent, interesting, expressive, and opinionated people, mostly women, who made up the conference. Why do I love the BlogHer conference? The reason is similar to the epiphany I had the first time I attended a women-in-business conference at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where I received my MBA. Having worked in the technology field for twenty years, and having attended countless professional conferences, my world, at least in work, has been almost entirely made up of men, and with it men’s interests and attitudes about the world. Sitting in the classrooms which are usually occupied mostly by men, it was almost magical to look around the room and see bright, open, intelligent faces of women, women more concerned with contributing to the discussion and connecting with others than sounding smarter than everyone else.
I have four younger brothers, I have worked in technology, and I have trained in martial arts (mostly with men), for most of my adult life. I enjoy the company of men. But sometimes, it’s just more fun to hang out with women. We tend to be more supportive of each other, and therefore more willing to take risks, e.g. display more vulnerability, in front of each other.
So this is the appeal of BlogHer for me – relaxing, engaging, and talking about subjects that interest me profoundly, with women. Every other conference geared toward the web, blogging, internet technology, etc. is top-heavy with men. And often the same men too, doing the speaking rounds at all the conferences.