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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Feminism in the workforce


Empowering women at Professional Development Day

The education and empowerment of women is crucial to their success, and the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) brought both education and empowerment to the women of St. Joe’s through its fourth annual Professional Development Day (PDD).

The feminist movement has pushed for women’s justice in the workplace, a fight which is still relevant today. In fact, empowering women professionally is as important now as it ever has been; it was concluded in 2016 that to every dollar a man earns in the workforce, a woman makes only 79 cents.

A less popular, but still equally as prevalent, statistic demonstrates that black women earn 60 cents on the dollar relative to white men, and that Latinx women earn a mere 55 cents.

With this in mind, the WLI sees great importance in creating confidence for all young women. As they head into the workplace after graduating, Professional Development Day serves as an ideal launching pad.

On Feb. 17, many young women honed skills as simple as giving a solid handshake, eventually progressing to challenges such as navigating predominantly male work spaces.

Lauren King ’17, a former co-president of the WLI and recent alumni of St. Joe’s, is now working for Philadelphia Energy Solutions. King served as one of the panelists, highlighting her experiences as a young working woman fresh out of college.

She mentioned something simultaneously compelling and eye-opening, noting that she often relied on more senior women in her office for tips on how to approach challenging situations that younger women may still encounter.

As women, we run the risk of being perceived differently as we create boundaries in the workplace. If facing harassment, it’s important to consider what may happen to a young women like King when requesting that someone leave her alone. Could she be fired?

With this in mind, there is still hope in the workforce after all. During our panel, we saw both trials and tribulations of navigating office dynamics while presenting as female.

Niki VanAller ’17, another panelist, St. Joe’s alumni, and former WLI executive board member working for the Coalition for Peace Action, noted that existing in their workplace can pose hurdles almost daily, yet also facilitates growth.

VanAller and I conversed during the PDD Mocktail Hour, where students had the opportunity to put their newly developed elevator speeches to work and network among alum, faculty, and industry partners. VanAller explained during the earlier panel that they identify as non-binary, leaving room for frequent mis-gendering among coworkers, but said this was a learning opportunity for their older bosses on topics like gender pronouns.

They appreciate the effort from their fellow colleagues, and referred to this as positive progress in our predominantly heteronormative society.

Events like Professional Development Day are crucial for the women of St. Joe’s, seeing that the education provided in moments like these give us the power to combat whatever marginalization comes our way.

We were given the opportunity to act out networking hypotheticals and later apply them in order to create important connections within our greater communities. I walked out of PDD with a strong handshake, a solid resume and an elevator speech describing how I strive to make my way in the world.

During PDD, we learned the importance of having a mentor throughout your career building experience. I can say that the people that serve as mentors for the Women’s Leadership Initiative have been fantastic resources on this campus for us Hawks for me.

While reflecting on the importance of female empowerment, I ask our campus to consider the following: How can we continue to create empowering spaces for the women of our campus and our community? Educate, educate, educate.

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