The Best Women-in-Leadership Conferences of 2019

June 25, 2019

By Suzy Strutner(opens in new tab), managing editor at Grow Wire

In many cases, businesswomen(opens in new tab) experience the work landscape differently than businessmen. Fewer women start businesses(opens in new tab) than men, and only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women(opens in new tab). Women are less likely to seek VC funding, and they receive just 2% of it annually(opens in new tab). Throw in those societal expectations of raising a family, and starting or growing a life as a businesswoman can feel straight-up challenging.

Women-in-leadership conferences aim to serve as an antidote, providing support and camaraderie in addition to advice and networking. A growing slate of them are held annually, focusing on matters both narrow (like how to get your voice heard in a meeting) and broad (like fighting discrimination at the societal level). Diverse themes, guests lists and prices ensure there’s something for nearly everyone. Our favorite women in leadership conferences include:

The Conferences for Women(opens in new tab)

The Conferences for Women hosts annual gatherings in cities across the U.S., bringing together  “thousands of active professionals(opens in new tab) to connect, renew, and find inspiration in community.” Each conference comes with its own slate of speakers -- both male and female -- that have included business author Simon Sinek, the co-founders of The Skimm(opens in new tab) and a top Morgan Stanley exec. Breakout sessions cover topics like “the workplace after #MeToo” and “fostering your inner entrepreneur.”

Who: This conference is for businesswomen who are passionate about eliminating the pay gap(opens in new tab), gender discrimination at work and the gender gap in company leadership.

When/Where: San Jose, CA in February; Philadelphia, PA in October; Austin, TX in October; Boston, MA in December

How to attend: Buy tickets(opens in new tab) on each conference’s respective website.

Cost: Tickets are about $225.

Mass(opens in new tab)


Women in the World Summit(opens in new tab)

Speakers at this summit need no introduction: Oprah, Anna Wintour and Cindy McCain(opens in new tab) graced the stage this year to talk about the global women’s movement and our collective role in it. Set in a theater, the Summit’s talks cover career as well as broader women’s issues: This year, recently-retired PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi detailed her new life mission(opens in new tab), and Hillary Clinton chatted with CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria. 

Who: You won’t get hands-on career advice here. But you will enjoy the Summit if you’re interested in putting your day-to-day business in a global feminism context. 

When: Annually, in April

Where: New York, NY

How to attend: Buy tickets online. Tickets for the 2020 summit aren’t on sale yet; mark your calendar to check the 2019 Summit website(opens in new tab) for details on next year’s event as the time nears.

Cost: Ticket prices aren’t currently listed, but they look to cost about $900(opens in new tab) to start.

Venue(opens in new tab)

WIN Summit(opens in new tab)

The Women’s Insights on the Art of Negotiation (WIN) Summit aims to help businesswomen become better negotiators. Practical workshops teach specific skills(opens in new tab) like “how to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’” and how to meditate in preparation for negotiation. They’re star-studded, too: This year’s speakers included the co-founder and CEO of Birchbox, a law professor from George Washington University and the editor in chief of Allure.

Who: The event is especially tailored to(opens in new tab) executives, current and prospective high-level management, entrepreneurs and consultants.

When: Annually, in May

Where: New York, NY

How to attend: Register and purchase tickets online(opens in new tab).

Cost: Individual tickets for first-time attendees were $799 this year.

Winsumm(opens in new tab)

Forbes Women’s Summit(opens in new tab)

Search “women’s leadership conference,” and you’ll soon conclude this is the premier one in the nation. The Forbes Women’s Summit just wrapped its seventh iteration(opens in new tab) with a customarily diverse lineup of A-list speakers including Jennifer Garner, NASA’s chief flight director and Recode(opens in new tab) co-founder Kara Swisher. Image sessions about using the power of community to build your business(opens in new tab) with the co-founder of Soul Cycle and a behavioral psychologist from Stanford’s School of Business.

Who: Attend the Summit if you’re interested in gleaning inspiration from female leaders “across industries and generations(opens in new tab),” per Forbes, and learning how they’re responding to social movements in real time.

When: Annually, in June

Where: New York, NY

How to attend: Registration for the 2020 event isn’t open yet. Mark your calendar to check the 2019 Summit website(opens in new tab) for details on next year’s event as the time nears.

Cost: Standard tickets to Forbes summits are usually $600-700. 

Forbes(opens in new tab)


The Girlboss Rally(opens in new tab)

If you’re a millennial businesswoman and don’t live under a rock, then you’re probably familiar with Girlboss(opens in new tab), the empowerment-organization-slash-media-brand from Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amaruso. The annual Rally combines speakers with savvy-sounding, hands-on workshops: This year, attendees might view a panel on workplace “drama” with Zappos’ corporate council, hear a reading from Instagram-famous poet Rupi Kaur or complete a workshop about budgeting for startups. Oh, and pretty much the entire venue is pink. 

Who: With selfie stations, a merch shop and networking mixers, this is conference for “woke” twenty- and thirtysomething women.

When: Annually, in June

Where: Location varies. The 2019 event is in Los Angeles, CA.

How to attend: Buy tickets online(opens in new tab).

Cost: A one-day pass is $325; a two-day pass is $550.

Pic 1(opens in new tab)

Mobilize Women(opens in new tab)

This daylong event features leaders from the Ellevate Network(opens in new tab), the brainchild of Wall Street legend Sallie Krawcheck. Conversations focus on “giving diverse voices, and particularly those of women, a seat at the table where decisions are made.” As an attendee, you might hear from civil rights activists, an HR exec at SeatGeek or a Visa VP.

Who: This summit is perfect for women who want to see social change start in their offices. As the title suggests, it’ll fire you up to build a more equal world in business(opens in new tab) and beyond. 

When: Annually, in June

Where: New York, NY

How to attend: Register online. Tickets usually go on sale in January2019 event website(opens in new tab) for details on 2020’s summit.

Cost: Last year, early-bird tickets for non-members(opens in new tab) were $500.

Elle(opens in new tab)


Summit21(opens in new tab)

Black girl bliss, beauty and boss moves(opens in new tab)” reign at this event from Blavity(opens in new tab), a collection of lifestyle brands for black millennials. Tracks have titles like Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Beauty and Impact and feature figureheads from YouTube producers to political strategists(opens in new tab). There’s also a pitch competition for startups and nighttime Blavity-branded parties. Summit21 is one big celebration of #blackgirlmagic(opens in new tab)

Who: This event is designed with black, millennial entrepreneurs, influencers and creators(opens in new tab) in mind.

When: The main Atlanta conference is held annually, in June. However, Summit21 just added a one-day event in Los Angeles in October 2019.

Where: Atlanta, GA and Los Angeles, CA

How to attend: Buy tickets online(opens in new tab).

Cost: Early bird tickets are $150.

Summit 21(opens in new tab)


Bullish Conference(opens in new tab)

Jennifer Dziura founded GetBullish(opens in new tab) as a hub for “career and biz badassery + feminism” based on her experience busting norms as a marketer, educational curriculum developer and business writer. (Fun fact: She got perfect scores on both the GRE and SAT(opens in new tab).) Dziura’s organization comes alive at the Bullish Conference, where an intentionally small group of “bullicorns(opens in new tab)”  -- that’s the Wall Street bull with a unicorn horn -- learn to grow their careers and strengthen marginalized groups.

Who: “Feminist goal-getters” will thrive at this conference.

When: Annually, in September-October

Where: Palm Springs, CA

How to attend: Tickets are sold online, but they’re not available yet for this year’s event. Sign up to get email alerts(opens in new tab), or keep checking the event website.

Cost: In previous years, tickets cost about $650.

Bullish(opens in new tab)


Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit(opens in new tab)

This Summit is elite. Attending requires membership in Fortune’s Most Powerful Women “club” (more details below). The “world’s most extraordinary leadership community(opens in new tab)” yields truly interesting business conversations infused with insights from philosophy, government work and more. This year’s Summit participants will include designer Tory Burch, the chairwoman of Sodexo and the COOs of both Pinterest and Airbnb.

Who: Only the most conventionally powerful of the powerful seem to make it to this event. The rest of us can benefit from watching YouTube videos of the sessions(opens in new tab).

When: Annually, in October

Where: Location varies. The 2019 event is in Washington, D.C.

How to attend: You’ll need to apply for Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Membership(opens in new tab), providing details on your company’s size and revenue.

Cost: Membership (i.e. your ticket to the Summit) is $13,500. (Cue YouTube videos(opens in new tab).)

MPW(opens in new tab)

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