By Charlotte Fontaine
NASHVILLE, TN — On February 25, Vanderbilt University’s The Wond’ry held its annual Renaissance Women’s Summit.
Beginning at 8 a.m. sharp the special occasion included panels, speakers, vendors, a student competition, workshops, and “fireside chats” conducted by successful women in their respective fields answering audience questions—all in a space that smelled like wintery perfumes.
These entrepreneurial ladies came in focused, friendly, and fashionable; for every hot pink suit, there was a hot take on how to help one another more efficiently. Congenial conversations were being had among attendees exchanging Instagrams between speeches.
Women were free to come and go, dropping in to pick up a goodie bag that held discount codes, serums, eucalyptus and more.
One could stop by a churro stand and catch various women talking about their professional experiences, all for a cost of around $100 per ticket.
In a society where women are expected to invisibly and silently fill irreplaceable roles within their social, work, and family lives, we are tired—We can do it…but do we have to? Many women spoke about the desire and need for community and support.
Wendi Boydon took to the microphone to explain that the purpose of “Boss Talks” (with Hillary Gasby, respectively) was to create an environment where women can “build relationships with each other rather than just promote themselves” and that the “magic is in the connection”.
Metaphorically speaking it felt like every woman in the room was breaking off a piece of their cookie, and sharing it with the neighbor next to them as the theme of not gatekeeping information influenced many of the discussions.
Hillary Gasby shared mentorship is key. “It is learning from the women who came before you and learning from the failures and successes”.
The summit was about much more than workshops and professional networking; it was, from the environment to the content, a space for solidarity and growth between women, with the overarching sentiment being to get to know your community, share your resources, be detailed in your advice, and to celebrate another woman’s success and strengths as she will celebrate yours.