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Tory Burch Wants Women To Know It’s Okay To Be Ambitious

The entrepreneur’s day-long summit will seek to erase negative connotations associated with “ambition,” a term often used to categorize women as difficult.

Tory Burch Wants Women To Know It’s Okay To Be Ambitious
[Photo: courtesy of Tory Burch Foundation]

Add the Tory Burch Foundation to the growing list of institutions launching female-empowerment conferences. The foundation, founded by fashion and lifestyle entrepreneur Tory Burch, will host its first-ever Embrace Ambition Summit in New York on April 24.

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The day-long summit is an extension of Burch’s “Embrace Ambition” initiative, which she launched in 2017 to erase negative connotations associated with the word “ambition,” a term slyly used to categorize people–especially women–as difficult, demanding, or as troublemakers. “We were overwhelmed by the response” to the campaign, says Laurie Fabiano, president of the Tory Burch Foundation. “We decided, ‘You know what? We should go further in calling out other stereotypes that impede women.”

Indeed, the conference theme, “Confronting Stereotypes and Creating New Norms,” will be highlighted by a diverse roster of convention-busting speakers and performers, including Yara Shahidi, the Black-ish and Grown-ish actress and activist; Ibtihaj Muhammed, the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing in the Olympics for the U.S.; and the genre-defying musician St. Vincent. (I’ll moderate a panel on entrepreneurship featuring Jessica O. Matthews, founder and CEO of Uncharted Power, Caren Ulrich Stacy, founder and CEO of DiversityLab, and Tony Tjan, CEO and managing partner, Cue Ball Group, a venture investing firm.)

A few members of the Fast Company Most Creative People community also are on the program, including journalist Katie Couric, GoldieBlox founder Debbie Sterling, and Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino. The panels and performances will be available via livestream by signing up in advance.

Women seeking inspiration have never had it so good. This month alone they could have feasted on Vanity Fair’s Founders Fair for women entrepreneurs and Tina Brown’s Women In the World Summit in Manhattan. Next month, Bloomberg Media will host its first Bloomberg Equality Summit at its New York City headquarters.

Fabiano believes the Embrace Ambition event stands out in the crowded field for its focus on the “root causes of inequality,” which, she says, “has a lot to do with unconscious bias in men and women.”

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