World-renowned athlete Serena Williams and legendary political activist and feminist organizer Gloria Steinem are among the keynote speakers Friday at the Watermark Conference for Women Silicon Valley.
Speaking to a large crowd of people at the sold-out annual event at the San Jose Convention Center, Steinem touched on several topics that affect women around the world, but most notably, she said violence against women is the common denominator in many issues, including terrorism.
"Sometimes I believe the world is divided into two kinds of people. Those who divide people into two, and those who don’t. We need to be those who don’t," Steinem said about the gender expectations women still face.
The feminist leader and Presidential Medal of Honor recipient also said she hopes that society can move towards becoming less gendered.
In the afternoon, Williams sat down with Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe to have a fireside chat about women in the workplace and balancing work and home life, a topic which Williams is a strong advocate.
Earlier this month, Williams appeared in a Super Bowl ad as spokeswoman for Bumble, which bills itself as a feminist dating app where women make the first move. She urged women on Friday to take the risk in their dating life, as well as in their career.
"You might not get that raise but you're definitely not going to get one if you don't ask for it," Wolfe said in agreement with Williams.
The tennis star opened up in August 2018 about her struggle with postpartum emotions after she gave birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. On Friday, she spoke further about her health scare related to blood clots.
She addressed how black women are often not believed, and they're three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Watermark Conference is the largest of its kind on the West Coast. It offers a day of energizing inspiration and networking, in addition to its powerful lineup of speakers who are influential champions for women.
Brené Brown, #1 New York Times best-selling author and one of the top five most viewed TED speakers in the world, also spoke at the conference.
Brown addressed people who feel unsettled by others talking about of racism, sexism and homophobia, saying "Your privilege and your comfort is not the center of those conversations."
NBC Bay Area's Jessica Aguirre and Laura Garcia were also special guest speakers at the event.
The conference has been named a Top 100 event in the San Francisco Bay Area by BizBash for its "buzz, innovation, and prominence," the Conference offers an unmatched spectrum of speakers on topics including gender equity and inclusion, pay parity and social media strategy.