Monday night’s “Working Women Work with Women” panel in Konover empowered and educated students preparing to enter the workforce. Hosted by the Women’s Center and the Center for Career Development and sponsored by Target, three “Working Women” shared experiences and lessons they have learned over the years to better prepare young women following in their footsteps.
Two of the panelists, Jacquelynn Garofano and Chadene Tremaglio work in STEM fields, Garofano as a materials researcher and Tremaglio as a freelance science writer and a podcast host. The third panelist was Kathleen Holgerson, the Director of the Women’s Center.
Alexa Lugo, co-chair of the programming committee at the Women’s Center and senior finance major, spoke to how they were looking for diversity in the panelists, and the STEM connection emerged on its own.
“In STEM women are often not represented or given the advantages men had previously,” Lugo said. “It’s important to have that representation.”
Much of what the panelists discussed involved the nitty gritty challenges women face, including the wage gap and trying to find a work-life balance. They tended to agree that gender is a barrier less in academia and in collegiate sciences.
“For me the expectation of being a woman really didn’t affect me all through my academic career,” Garofano said. “It really didn’t affect me until further on.”
However, that wasn’t to say that gender is irrelevant in an academic setting. Holgerson pointed out that when academic institutions celebrate 150 years, “that was only 150 years for some people.” Holgerson pointed out that academic institutions weren’t first created with women in mind.
As for finding a work-life balance, managing children can certainly be a part of it, especially in male-dominated STEM fields. Tremaglio recounted a boss at a previous job who had never had a mother work under him before, only fathers. She recounted how he didn’t understand the need to give her privacy while pumping breast milk and how he texted her while she was in labor.
“My work-life balance is basically my own sanity and knowing things will be there tomorrow,” Garofano said.
Holgerson discussed how often not having children lets people believe that you can always stay the extra hour, but all three women stressed how work-life balance is about your own mental health and mindfulness as well.
In addition, the panelists gave tips on how to manage overbearing bosses and trying to manage different aspects of your life successfully, whether it has anything to do with being female or not.
Holgerson presented the idea that we need to reevaluate the notion of a life plan. Life plans don’t work out, you need to be prepared for upsets. Similarly, Tremaglio mentioned that when she was an undergraduate, she was very concerned with what she wanted to be, as opposed to who she wanted to be, which is more important.
“I would’ve wanted to be someone who was confident in her abilities and derived her sense of accomplishment from the inside,” Tremaglio said. Knowing this would have made her more prepared to deal with the upsets of life.
The women also presented messages of taking the grunt work when necessary, but always making the most of it.
“They repeated ‘do it with grace,’” graduate material science and engineering student Ayana Ghosh said. “As a graduate student, you have to deal with a lot of pressure, so this is important.”
A representative from Target was also present, Melissa Lyhne, executive of sales and guest experience.
“I think the main thing is empowerment,” Lyhne said. “We need to start to make a difference and it’s really starting the dialogue towards where we should be heading.”
Alex Houdeshell is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.