[image-1] ‘Tis the season for female empowerment thanks to this year’s first TEDx women’s event, held on Sat. Dec. 7. Event organizer Lisa Barry recognized the need for a female-focused community event in Charleston after participating in Hilton Head’s inaugural women’s TEDx last December.

“I just thought, we need to bring this experience back to Charleston,” Barry says. “As a woman in the tech industry, I know what it’s like to be in an environment where opportunities are not quite evenly matched, but that is changing for women. This event is a chance, especially for younger folks, to realize the new opportunities that are available when you have the confidence and perseverance to actually act.”

The TEDxWhitePointGardensWomen event will feature nine different local speakers bringing a unique mix of perspectives to the stage, from a high school student to a NASA-funded neuroscientist. Associated with the international nonprofit TED, TEDx events differ from their parent organization because they are organized and managed independently by locals in the area.

This lends communities the chance to discuss what the nonprofit likes to call “ideas worth spreading.” Barry also believes it’s a great opportunity to network with others in your city. “There are so many people doing wonderful things here. It’s important to have these local events as an outlet for people to learn and connect with community members that they might not have otherwise met,” she explains.

Every TEDx event follows the same format as the original TED conference lectures, where leaders in all things technology, entertainment, and design give a live presentation on a topic of their choice in 18 minutes or less. Since the nonprofit’s inception in 1984, the biannual conferences have transformed into a worldwide video phenomenon. If you haven’t seen a TED Talk before, we’re only going to assume that you’ve been living on a remote island somewhere with no internet.

[image-2]These short, informative lectures are extremely popular and have covered topics on everything from activism to the afterlife. When the organization realized what an impact these viral video lectures were having on viewers, they created a way to allow local thinkers and doers to showcase their knowledge to their own community, bringing new perspectives and ideas to light. And just like that, TEDx was born.

To kickstart the first women’s TEDx, Barry had to find a new way to approach it because TEDxCharleston already existed as a separately licensed event.

“TEDxWhitePointGardens came about because of the beauty that it embodies — all the flowers, all the history there,” she says. “I thought it was a fitting place to celebrate all of our women speakers for the first event, and the name stuck.”

During the day-long conference held at Charleston Stage’s West Ashley Theater Center, the audience will hear from nine women heavily involved in the Charleston community, each with a topic unique to their work and experiences. “Every one of these women brings something dynamic to the table,” says Barry. “And it really is a diverse group of ladies.” Singer-songwriter Irene Rose Yereb will speak on authenticity while Nichole Myles, a community activist, will share her view on unlikability and why we shouldn’t try to change who we are just to make sure people like us.

Though the event aims to spotlight and empower successful women in Charleston, it also tries to break down gender role barriers. “At least 80 percent of these talks will resonate with young people,” says Barry. “And I don’t just mean young women — young men, too. Just because this is a women speaking event, doesn’t mean everybody’s not welcome. We want everywhere there to learn from these amazing women and their perspective on what they’ve experienced.”

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