Beyond Pink: Great Idea, Dubious Name

Rebecca just posted about Beyond Pink, a conference for female entrepeneurs in Vancouver in March:

Beyond Pink is the first conference of its kind in Western Canada, and will act as the launch event for the Young Women in Business network (YWiB) in March 2008. The event will feature an interactive workshop series, speaker and panel sessions hosted by individuals with extraordinary backgrounds and experiences, the Connect! Women in Business Tradeshow, a break out luncheon with cross-industry mentors, and a celebratory Gala dinner to wrap up the weekend.

Things I like about this event:

  • I heartily applaud this kind of conference. Organizations like Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and Wired Woman (huh, I always thought it was ‘Women’) demonstrate that there’s an appetite for an event like this. It’s unclear how young they’re aiming at–it may be a Wall Centre full of recent university graduates.
  • It’s very fairly priced at CAN $235. And that includes two (shared, I think) nights at the Wall Centre. The price isn’t any cheaper for locals, apparently, which is a bit lame.
  • I like their site design–it’s friendly yet professional, and far superior to the FWE and Wired Woman websites (which, frankly, are a bit desperate).
  • They’re running a silent auction to raise money for Women for Women International.

Things that I don’t like about this event:

  • The name seems like a bad idea. By including ‘Pink’ in the brand, you don’t flout the stereotype, you reinforce it. And if you want to go ‘beyond pink’, then you probably shouldn’t use that colour as part of your logo and website. Alternately, if ‘Beyond Pink’ is just supposed to be playful, it undercuts the professionalism of the conference and will, I think, turn off potential attendees. Maybe I’m missing nuances that, in fact, appeal to female entrepreneurs? What do you think?
  • The speakers. I don’t want to pre-judge, but of the two speakers they’ve got listed thus far, only half of them are female. And the dude feels obliged to include “MSc., MBA” after his name. I regularly heard complaints about the gender of FWE speakers–that there were too many men. Don’t women out-number men as business owners in Canada? Surely you could stock this event with great female speakers. Why wouldn’t you? Speaking as a, uh, male speaker, I’d take no offense at that.
  • The copy on the website. As I get older, my tolerance for nonsensical fluff in corporate communications declines. On Saturday, the sessions will focus on “aligning a professional path with one’s aspirations, values, and beliefs.” Elsewhere, they describe YWiB’s goal is for members to “gain the insight, support, and capability necessary to reach their fullest personal and professional potential”. Finally, they describe their organizing team as a “25-person, unconventional team of leaders”. Anybody who self-identifies as “unconventional” probably isn’t.

According to Rebecca registration closes on February 25, so you need to act fast. I guess they’re selling out, because that seems like a very early date to close registration.

I’d want to see who the other speakers were, but it has the makings to be a good event. Plus, if you’re a local, $235 is a pretty low-risk investment.


  1. You know, I’m not an entrepreneur, just a lowly IT monkey… but there isn’t a chance in hell I’d go to a conference called “Beyond Pink”. Eesh.

  2. Your comments and those of the first person to respond gave me comfort. I have run a company for over 20 years that promotes women’s success. I have had a hard time watching the return of stereotypes that so many worked for so long to erase. The one that really gives me nightmares is pink. I am told that it is now empowering! Hard to picture that as reality.
    If I may quote “Eesh”.

  3. Ditto to Donna on the pink. I wear it, but it doesn’t define me.

    Frankly, I don’t like any of these woman-gatherings. I think they can reinforce stereotypes. I’ve been to one where during the keynote the host(ess) was trying to get guests to talk about how they’d been discriminated against in their careers, but everyone said they hadn’t been. So much for that angle!

    Also, I went to a few Wired Woman events a bunch of years ago, but gave up because it was filled with women who work in IT companies in non-IT jobs (like marketing, management and HR). Not that that isn’t cool, but that’s hardly “wired”.

  4. Looks like the speakers are posted- I did a little bit of research on them, and some usually charge over $200 to hear/meet with them. This seems like a sweet deal!

    And there is no mention of any women vs. men. Seems like the ladies just really want to take a stand. I applaud!

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