Earlier this month, several Acacia employees and I had the opportunity to reset, renew and reconnect with other women in person at the 2022 Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston. This event is designed to provide connection, motivation, networking, inspiration, and skill building for thousands of women each year.  And once again, it did not disappoint!  We heard from dozens of expert speakers discussing the issues that matter most to women, including personal finance, business and entrepreneurship, health, work/life balance and more.

Conference for Women

Like some of the other women’s conferences I have attended, it was inspiring to hear from so many successful women. Gatherings like this are essential for bringing us together and celebrating those accomplishments. It’s nice to see women advancing in every industry – even in optical communications, which has traditionally been male dominated. I was thrilled to see recently that three of the five plenaries will be women at the industry’s biggest event next year,  OFC: Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition.  This is the first time I can remember that happening in the many years I have been attending.

MA Conference for Women Highlights

My favorite interview at this year’s event was with Reese Witherspoon, an award-winning actress, entrepreneur, producer, and New York Times bestselling author. As an advocate and activist for women’s issues across the globe, she established Hello Sunshine, a media brand and content company dedicated to female authorship and storytelling across all platforms.

I appreciate Reese’s passion for literature and her work ethic.  When she was told by a movie studio head that the studio was only developing one women-centric story per year and no more, she flipped the script and turned being underestimated into an advantage by investing her own money to develop projects with women at the center of the story. That changed her entire career.  A great tip she shared was, “Look for inspiration in other people’s actions.” Well, I’m certainly inspired by her story.

One of my colleagues, Wen Wu, also had some insightful feedback from the show.  This was her first time attending the conference and she was in awe at how large scale and inclusive it was. According to Wen, “I loved networking with women from different backgrounds, particularly after a tough three years where we were not able to connect face-to-face that often. One of my favorite presentations was from Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett who co-designed one of the first vaccines for COVID in only 66 days from the viral release. Her dedication to viral immunology, as well as being an advocator for STEM education and vaccine awareness in some underserved communities, was truly inspiring. I admire Dr. Corbett as a scientist, an advocator and as a women leader. I can’t wait to attend again next year and learn more about the amazing group of women!”

A few other notable presenters from the conference include:

  • Viola Davis,the first black actress to win Tony, Oscar, and Emmy awards. With her husband, she founded JuVee, which focuses on giving a voice to the voiceless through strong, impactful, and culturally relevant narratives.
  • Misty Copeland, a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre and the author of the New York Timesbestsellers Life in MotionBallerina BodyBlack Ballerinas, and the children’s picture book Bunheads, as well as the award-winning children’s book, Firebird.
  • Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee who holds a degree in electrical and computer engineering from Olin College and an MBA from Harvard. She spoke about how she made the courageous decision to blow the whistle on Facebook.
  • Marlee Matlin, academy award-winning actress and advocate who became deaf at 18 months old, gave solid advice on how to make your voice heard.

Big thanks to the organizers for putting on such an insightful and inspiring show.  If you have the opportunity, I recommend attending. My colleagues and I can’t wait for next year.