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Mommy Isn’t An Adjective. But It’s Sure Used That Way In Newspaper Headlines.

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I’ve been involved with Industry Conferences and Events for 20 years now. Two decades. I remember well the surprising extravagance I experienced when I walked into my first automobile industry conference at 22 years old, and since then, I’ve attended countless technology conferences, oil & gas industry summits, and don’t even get me started on healthcare conventions. If you could see the expense reports that have been submitted to me (and the contents therein), you would turn purple.  On the other hand, if you could see the deals closed, you’d get why these conferences exist. There is no faster way to advance in an industry than by connecting with others who want to advance an industry.  Male-dominated conferences. Female-dominated conferences. It doesn’t matter.

Or does it?

There’s been a lot of talk about an article that came out yesterday in the Wall Street Journal. But honestly, I found the packaged article to be so “silly,” that I’m not interested in getting into the offending details. Like debating the benefits of dehydration, it’s pointless. But the most surprising point to me–which is honestly saying a lot if you’ve seen The Onionesque infographic–is who published this: The Wall Street Journal.

Fairly or unfairly, people often accuse traditional media of being consistently and obviously not into professionals who happen to be moms (or “mommies,” as we’re so dismissively labeled). Is it disgust of motherly things? Is it  fear of  a new medium? Is it envy of influence? Who cares? Journalists aren’t supposed to show any of that, anyway. They’re supposed to report the news, “by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues,” according to the SBJ code of ethics

So my question is: Who at one of our top newspapers thinks that this kind of print (and illustration) represents excellence in publishing? And what’s the intent in publishing it?

Is it to draw eyeballs? It’s unclear if that’s happening; the majority of the conversation about the article is happening elsewhere, like here, and here, and, perhaps my favorite, here.

Is it to keep these “mommies” attending these “business” conferences in their places? Good luck. For starters, “mommy” is not an adjective. It’s not an industry, and it’s not in any way associated with a business trip. But there’s nothing more dynamic than an organized group of moms. Count on it.

Is it to disregard the smart women attending, including CEOs, executive vice presidents, media, celebrities, non-profit leaders, educators, PhDs, New York Times Best Selling Authors, even a well-deserved professional lauded just last night for her smart contribution to the creative industry by none other than the Wall Street Journal.  I guess. But these women are powerful…and in no way are they attending to have power over the TV remote control. 

While, the article referenced a conference I program (and the minibars its attendees are so allegedly excited to lie next to), I wasn’t able to make an interview. But my business partner was, and Katherine Stone was, and apparently others were, too. And while I’m sure the writer is an accomplished and lovely person, it seemed  by all reports that she was much more generous in her use of quotes around words like “business” than using actual quotes from the women she interviewed. In the end,  it’s too bad that these professionals gave up any of their time, because as far as I can tell, the article was destined to be damning before it was even written. And that’s unfortunate.

In the end, I think we said it best in the response letter we sent to the Wall Street Journal. You can read that letter here. Judging by their past actions, I’d be surprised if you’ll ever read it there. 

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