There’s a BinderCon for Female and Gender Non-Conforming Writers, and Mitt Romney Is Definitely Not InvitedBy Jillian Richardson August 20th, 2014
I recently wrote an article about the underrepresentation of women in the media. After I submitted the piece, I sat in front of my computer and felt pretty despondent about the future for female writers. But the gender equality gods must have been smiling down on me that day, because right after I filed my draft, I discovered a Kickstarter for something called BinderCon that gave me hope again.
What in the name of Susan B. Anthony is BinderCon, you ask? It’s a NYC-based symposium that hopes to “empower women and gender non-conforming writers with tools, connections, and strategies to advance their careers.” The event is the result of a popular Facebook group called “Binders Full of Women Writers.” The title is a jab at the infamous Mitt Romney quote from the 2012 presidential debate: “I went to a number of women’s groups and said: ‘Can you help us find folks?’ And they brought us whole binders full of women.”
Recently I spoke to the extremely qualified co-chairs of the event, Lux Alptraum and Leigh Stein. Alptraum is a freelancer and has been the CEO of Fleshbot, editor-at-large for Nerve.com, and founder of the blog Boinkology. Stein is the author of The Fallback Plan, which was called “highbrow brilliant” by New York Magazine. She was also formerly on the editorial staff of The New Yorker.
After I had a brief panic attack reviewing their credentials, we finally got down to business and discussed what attendees can expect from BinderCon:
What inspired you to start this event?
Alptraum: Leigh and I connected through an online group devoted to women writers, which inspired us to take the energy we found on the internet and channel it into an event.
Stein: The idea for this conference came to me as I watched so many women making professional connections online. In-person meetups have already been happening, but I wanted to take this to the next level: What would happen if women helped other women advance their writing careers? Through professional development and networking, can we shake up those VIDA pie charts? I think so!
Why do you think that this sort of event is important, especially for women?
Alptraum: Writing is a really solitary activity, and it can often feel like there’s no supportive network out there to help you get ahead—especially for women writers, who still lag behind men in byline counts. We want to bring women and gender non-conforming writers together so that we can all help each other out.
How has the online version of Binders helped you so far?
Stein: I met an editor and pitched a piece that got accepted. I’m also talking to a book editor about an anthology proposal.
Alptraum: I’ve met a lot of fantastic writers!
What workshops are you excited for?
Alptraum: All of them! But even more excited for the structured networking events that we’re putting together that will give attendees the chance to build meaningful relationships that will help them get ahead in their careers. It’s a lot easier to make a lasting, meaningful connection in person than it is online.
Stein: I’m glad we have a licensed social worker as part of our organizing committee (Sherry Amatenstein, who’s also an author). She’s going to be leading a workshop on the writer’s ego—how to deal with procrastination, perfectionism, rejection, etc. I talk to so many women who face mental blocks in their writing lives, and I know Sherry will be able to help them break through.
What do you hope will be a result of BinderCon?
Alptraum: We want attendees to leave the conference feeling inspired and motivated to take the next steps in their careers and to feel that they’ve gained the tools and relationships that they need to take those steps.
Stein: I can’t say it any better than Lux.