And Then There Were Women: Day Three at CPAC

And on the third day of CPAC there were women.

The boldface lineup that launched the conference Thursday had all but lost steam on Saturday as the Chris Christies and Rand Pauls gave way to the Newt Gingriches and Sarah Palins, who, incidentally, were both major sponsors of the conference.

The crowd, too, thinned out a bit. Saturday hangovers kicked in and the ballroom was largely empty for much of the morning. A reporter seated behind me answered her phone during a panel on the future of the conservative union.

"I'm not in a bar," she said over the din. "I wish to god I was in a bar."

And Then There Were Women: Day Three at CPAC

And the day soldiered on with an Ann Coulter appearance and speeches from Michele Bachmann and the demon sheep hunter herself, Carly Fiorina.

But although it was International Women's Day, the disparity in female involvement wasn't explicitly addressed until a decently-attended panel on "Why Conservatism Is Right for Women."

The women on the panel agreed there's an issue and said that the party should stand up more for female candidates and encourage "white males" not to "be funny" about female-centric issues.

It's not clear what percentage of weekend's attendees were women, but CPAC executives announcing the straw poll results (Rand Paul won again) said that only 37 percent of the vote was female.

Based on stats from the official weekend schedule, the speaking divide was a lot worse: 128 men (78%) to 35 (21%) women, a 57 point gap. Fiorina, who is now the chairwoman of the American Conservative Union Foundation, told an LA Times reporter that the lack of women was due to "scheduling conflicts."

Palin was the only woman to receive any real promotion for her appearance. She also donated at least $9,000 to the conference as a "participating sponsor" through her new television show, Sarah Palin's Amazing America. CPAC attendees sported her TV show's bright red giveaway bag throughout the weekend.

When I ask people who they were most excited to see, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Rick Perry are the most common answers. No one chooses a female speaker.

One older guy describes a prominent female conservative he admires thusly: "Who's the young—she's on Fox News all the time? It's like Red State/Black Chick, or some kind of cool tweet handle."

(He was referring to Crystal Wright, who tweets at @conservativeblackchick and participated in the sole all-female panel.)

As we talk about female participation, he points out a young woman animatedly engaged in conversation nearby.

"Some of these young, dynamic women—look at her right here, she's not Homeschool Hannah, she's all dressed for success and is out there, so apparently there may be some culture of women that are conservative. You know, Fox News, they get all the dolls on there, excuse my male chauvinist term."

I approach Not Homeschool Hannah later and ask her why she attended—and it turns out the guy wasn't wrong. She says she's an aspiring political journalist who came with her college Republican group.

"This is a pretty good place for connections," she says. "I've made some really great connections."

[image via Getty and the CPAC 2014 Official App]