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Forbes Power Women’s Summit: Blake Lively and Emily Ratajkowksi Explore Career, Advocacy and Motherhood

This afternoon, Forbes put on its tenth anniversary Power Women’s Summit. Established by Forbes‘s Executive Vice President, Moira Forbes, the event set out to establish a collaborative entrepreneurial community for women across all generations. I had the chance to attend the inspiring summit and hear women from various industries share their personal secrets to success.

Inaugural speaker Blake Lively generated “buzz” with her surprise on-stage pregnancy reveal, then swiftly captivated audiences with sage advice about pursuing career paths in today’s entertainment and entrepreneurial spheres. As the founder of Betty Buzz, a line of non-alcoholic mixer drinks, Lively has placed creativity, quality and conviction at the heart of her company. She encourages fellow businesswomen to do the same. “You have to be creative, even in business,” she shared. “You have to be able to stand behind [your product, even] when people tell you no.”

The conversation soon steered towards the troubling obstacles women in business face today. Specifically, Lively touched on the pervasive relabeling of praiseworthy masculine traits as negative quirks in powerful women. While men are celebrated in the workplace for exuding ambition, drive and leadership, women with similar qualities are oftentimes labeled “difficult to work with” or “high-maintenance perfectionists.” Lively revealed that to combat this phenomenon, she consistently asks herself if she is surrounded by people who respect her vision.

Additionally, Lively opened up about the importance of time management. As a soon-to-be mother of four, time management is an essential building block to maintaining her successful career. She said that she now opts to solely work on projects that value her time and respect her as a creative. Let’s all embrace this attitude and prioritize our worth!

The summit continued to explore the intersection of motherhood, work-life and feminist advocacy, as supermodel and New York Times Bestselling author Emily Ratajkowski took the stage. Ratajkowski revealed how recently giving birth to her son changed her perspective on being a role model for others. With nearly 30 million social media followers, Ratajkowski believes that (now more than ever) she should promote her most vulnerable and authentic self to set a good example for those that look up to her.  

Ratajkowski also discussed her tell-all autobiography My Body, in which she reclaims ownership over her body by divulging the harrowing experiences normalized in the modeling industry. Through a direct and inclusive use of language, the novel invites all genders to relate to the uncomfortable realities of living in an insecure body. With mixed reviews rolling in about the new paperback release, Ratajkowksi said that she welcomes both positive and negative feedback since her main goal is simply bringing controversial issues to light.

With critics slamming Ratajkowski for venturing outside of her lane as a model, she laughed that, “People have to learn to deal with it.” As a feminist activist, Ratajkowski insists that her success would not have been possible without her ambition to stretch past the conventional confines of a modeling career.

Witnessing the panel at this year’s Forbes Power Women’s Summit was both a privilege and a joy. I was able to draw connections between my aspirations as a rising college senior and the journeys of women at the top of their respective fields. Each speaker encouraged future generations to pursue their dreams and incite change for women of all ages, backgrounds and cultures. Learning this message from advocates that truly want to see others thrive definitely impacted my outlook on my own career path. Now I can confidently say: When trying to establish yourself in the rough-and-tumble business world, looking to trailblazing women’s past success stories should undoubtedly be your first step.

Thank you to Forbes for inviting Her Campus at UCLA to this year’s Forbes Power Women’s Summit. Don’t forget that Blake Lively’s Betty Buzz drinks and Emily Ratajkowski’s new paperback release of My Body are available for purchase now!

Grace LaPlante is currently a senior English major at UCLA—she’s a literature lover, music enthusiast and sports fanatic with dreams of traveling the world someday!
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