IBM’s Rometty Raises Profile for Women at Sun Valley Confab

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IBM Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty and her counterpart at General Motors Co., Mary Barra, are scheduled to attend Allen & Co.’s annual Sun Valley Conference, underscoring a growing number of female and non-media attendees.

Other women invitees who weren’t on last year’s list include Sara Blakely, founder of the hosiery company Spanx Inc., Eventbrite Inc.’s Julia Hartz, SunEdison Inc.’s Cathy Zoi and Lorna Borenstein of Grokker Inc., which offers cooking and other classes online. They join familiar names on the roster including Facebook Inc.’s Sheryl Sandberg, Yahoo! Inc.’s Marissa Mayer, Hewlett-Packard’s Meg Whitman and Xerox Corp.’s Ursula Burns.

Women still make up a small percentage of the attendees at the conference -- fewer than 25 of the more than 300 invited. Yet that’s almost twice the number from last year, according to the current list and past copies obtained by Bloomberg News.

The conference, sponsored by the investment bank Allen & Co. every July at Idaho’s Sun Valley Resort, began as an event for media executives and has branched out in recent years to include technology and other industries.

Tesla Motors Inc. co-founder and CEO Elon Musk will be making his first appearance at the conference, based on an examination of past rosters. Khobi Brooklyn, a Tesla spokeswoman, confirmed he’s attending. Barra, who became GM’s first female CEO ever in January 2014, will also attend, said a spokesman, Pat Morrissey.

Many high-profile deals have been hatched at the conference, from Walt Disney Co.’s $19 billion merger with Capital Cities/ABC Inc. in 1995 to Jeff Bezos’s $250 million purchase of the Washington Post two years ago.

Allen & Co., based in New York, didn’t respond to a request for comment. Last year, the company advised Facebook on its $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging company.

Media moguls still feature prominently at the conference, including Rupert Murdoch, Barry Diller, Les Moonves, Bob Iger, Casey Wasserman and Harvey Weinstein.

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