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July 31, 2012 Wharton School of Business, U. Penn Philadelphia, Pa Adam M. Grant, PhD, an associate professor of management, seen at Wharton this morning. Michael Kamber/Bloomberg Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

While Penn students were on fall break, the largest personal and professional networking event for women in the tri-state area was held in Center City. And Wharton professor Adam Grant delivered the keynote address.

The 12th annual Pennsylvania Conference for Women took place on Oct. 6 at the Philadelphia Convention Center. With over 9,000 people in attendance, this year’s sold-out conference boasted the best turnout in its history.

Though the majority of the attendees were women of working age, young girls in school uniforms, mother-daughter pairs, retired women and men made up a significant portion of the crowd.

The conference consisted of speeches, smaller “breakout sessions” in which speakers addressed topics tailored specifically to certain groups and workshops on resume reviewing, digital brand management and networking.

Penn President Amy Gutmann is a member of the conference’s advisory board, which is primarily composed of the greater Philadelphia area’s most powerful women. She wasn’t the only Penn connection to the event.

Grant delivered the opening keynote address on Thursday morning and also spoke at a breakout session titled “Women, Work and Life: How to Give and Take.” The session centered on career advancement, especially for mid or senior-level professionals with significant experience looking for advice on professional skills and job advancement.

In this session, Grant spoke about how to contribute to others without sacrificing yourself. Using surprising studies and cases, Grant conveyed how to be generous without burning out and getting burned.

"Women feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to help other people, and they tend to be more giving than men and are at a greater risk for burnout because of it," Grant said. 

Other keynotes included soccer player Abby Wambach, actress and comedian Mindy Kaling, attorney Anita Hill and musician St. Vincent. In total, the conference featured more than 100 thought leaders and industry experts from across the country in the fields of business, philanthropy, health, finance, media and professional development.

This year’s theme was “The Power of Us: Amplify Your Voice.” The advice — “speak up” — was administered to the crowd a number of times in a variety of forms throughout the conference.

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