This article was written by Keara Vickers, a broadcast journalism student at Ohio University. She is an incoming Students For Liberty Campus Coordinator for the 2012-2013 school year.
There’s something to be said about the irony of fate – on the hottest weekend of the year, in a city built on a swamp, the first big storm of the season knocked power out to a majority of DC’s suburbs and cut a path of outages through the entire east coast. In this perfect storm of conditions, the first Women for Liberty Leadership Summit convened.
Coming to the Summit, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect — or more accurately, who to expect. Most Libertarian conferences involve sea of men with one or two women thrown in like feminine needles in the proverbial haystack of testosterone-fueled politics. For a moment I feared that the attendees would be like Libertarian Gretchen Weiners and The Plastics from Mean Girls.
During breakfast, there were the customary outfit appraisals and compliments all around. The audience represented a wide swath of women from various Libertarian groups; there was representation from SFL but also CATO, The Heritage Foundation, Reason and a dozen other groups.
The diversity of the attendees matched the diversity of our organizations. We represented different ethnicities, backgrounds, nationalities and ideals but were connected by a common thread — we all were committed enough to the ideas of liberty to brave the heat and stormy weather to attend the Summit. There was the same energy and enthusiasm I learned to expect at any libertarian event. There was no hint of cheer-camp style interaction; in fact, it was just like any small SFL conference… but with far fewer bow ties.
The speakers also came from different angles within the greater liberty movement. There was an equal amount of leadership training and personal stories and reflection. Topics ranged from the international movement for liberty to how to maintain an effective online presence and everything in between. The overriding theme was “triumph.” Each one of the speakers touched on how they cleared their own personal and professional hurdles.
The real key of the summit wasn’t necessarily the information presented by the speakers but their accessibility to the audience; it wasn’t difficult to imagine any of us becoming Megan McArdle or Marty Zupan. It wasn’t just possible, but the reality was tangible and literally right in front of us. More than any leadership training, I found real value in realizing that women don’t just make it in the liberty movement — they had (and continue to have) a hand in making the movement.
It’s easy for women to get lost in a political sphere that has all but recently been dominated by men. The presence of specialized groups within the liberty movement may be a signal of growth. Or perhaps we just wanted an opportunity to talk about SCOTUS rulings and shoes in the same conversation. Either way, we won’t hang the “no boys allowed” sign just yet. So there’s no need to worry, gentlemen, but keep an eye out; there’s an army of fabulous, brilliant women ready to step into the liberty limelight.