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Women In The World Summit 2012: Highlights From HuffPost Women

Posted: 03/12/2012 3:04 pm

Meryl Streep may have put it best when she said that being at the 3rd annual Women in the World summit in New York City was like being plugged in to an energy source. "It's bigger than oil, coal -- it's girls!" she said.

The three-day affair, hosted by Newsweek and The Daily Beast, brought together some of the biggest names in business, politics, women's rights and journalism –- in addition to several rising stars in social media activism.

Panels covered topics from "Where are the women at the top?" to "The digital lives of girls," as well as a host of international issues impacting women. Here are 10 crucial points we heard made at the Women in the World conference.

1. Progress for women shouldn't and can't always be defined in comparison to men.
"We look too much at positions that used to be held by men. In any social justice movement, any change creates new positions [at the top] ... Oprah is a phenomenon unto herself. "
-- Gloria Steinem, Co-Founder, Ms. Magazine

2. Claiming a woman -- or anyone -- will never be ____ probably isn't wise.
Referring to a 1962 quote from an editor at the newspaper of record, "No woman will ever be an editor at The New York Times": "Nearly 40 percent of our senior editors and managers in the newsroom are women and, of course, there's me. I would say that quote just reminds me to always beware of making predications like that."
-- Jill Abramson, Managing Editor, New York Times

3. Women may have more career opportunities now than ever, but they're also more likely to blame themselves for the obstacles they encounter.
"The challenging thing for my generation is that we were told that we were equal and that there were no more barriers: They had all been broken down by the previous generations. And so, when we go into the workforce and we start doing our work and we hit these barriers, we think it must be our fault, that it's an individual problem."
-- Shelby Knox, Director of Women's Rights Organizing, Change.org

4. Many men are having to accept women as the primary earners in their relationships.
"With my boyfriend recently, when we go out to dinner they always hand him the check, and he says to them, 'Wrong economy,' and hands it to me."
-- Amanda Steinberg, CEO, DailyWorth

5. To play a bigger role in politics, women may need to think more like men.
"A guy is at a law firm or he owns his own business, and someone says to him, 'Hey, you should really think about running for state legislature.' And he goes and looks in the mirror and says, 'Yes I should.' Women will hear that same -- if they even have that same conversation, which they don’t as often -- and will look in the mirror and say, 'Oh, but I don’t know that much about foreign policy,' or, 'Oh, I haven’t been doing my job long enough.' Women may need to get a little bit of the phony self-confidence that it takes to run for office."
-- Anne Kornblut, Deputy Political Editor, Washington Post

6. To get more women in the start-up world, there need to be more women investors.
"The venture capital firms are hugely underrepresented with women investors. There's no question. If you are at a company that has only men listening to pitches, they tend to like the pitches that come from men … It's a real problem for women entrepreneurs to be able to finance a start-up company and it's important, because this is the area where there's going to be a lot of wealth creation over the next couple of decades."
-- Susan Lyne, Chairman, Gilt Groupe

7. Speaking of start-ups, it's okay if you want yours to be based around shopping or child-rearing.
"There are millions and millions of women out there who love to shop and who have babies, so why would you not go where the need is? It's just not logical. I think that you go for what you know, and you go for where you see the white space. "
-- Susan Lyne, Chairman, Gilt Groupe

8. Women will be better off in business when employers focus less on hours spent in the office and more on productivity.
"If we want more women leaders, we really have to change the expectations around actual time in the office and really put the emphasis on results. Because the reality is, I was up until 4 o'clock in the morning on Saturday writing a paper, but I also took half the day off yesterday to take care of a sick child."
-- Amanda Steinberg, Founder and CEO, DailyWorth

9. The Internet can be a positive force in young women's lives.
"Too often we focus on the perils and pitfalls that the Internet and social media pose for young women and girls, and clearly those challenges are real. Too rarely, though, do we focus on the ways in which young women and girls are using the Internet and social media to find their voices to sing and dance, but also to project their voices and to help organize and build communities and movements … to help build a world online offline that all of us would rather live in. "
-- Chelsea Clinton, Board Member, Clinton Foundation

10. Social media is the medium of choice for many young women to connect and try to make a difference.
"The Internet is our tool to organize, to tell our stories and to come together. I would also say, while this is in no way meant to sound ageist, we've been steeped in this technology our entire lives. We know how to navigate it, so what may seem like a pitfall seems like an opportunity for young women. The first key to all organizing is to trust the person you want to help, so if young women are saying the Internet is how they are powerful, the Internet is how they are powerful."
-- Shelby Knox, Director of Women's Rights Organizing, Change.org

"Young women are listening to each other, which I think is probably the most important part of it in a media that often tries to pit young women against each other. They're really there for each other in the comments section. Everyone is able to submit their own thoughts and support each other that way."
-- Julie Zellinger, Founder and Editor, The FBomb

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