Saturday, April 20, 2024

Panel highlights women’s challenges

By Luca Gross

To kick off Women’s History Month, the Women in Leadership club hosted “Breaking the Glass Ceiling,” a Q&A panel about being women in male dominated fields Wednesday, March 2.

 There were three panelist speakers that work on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus.

Dr. Amy Ryan, an assistant professor and researcher of biomedical sciences; Dr. Connie Oxford, the department chair of gender and women’s studies and Jessica Facteau, a University Police investigator. 

The club prepared several in depth questions for the speakers about leadership styles, their motivation and inspirations and other experiences.

This panel was an opportunity for young women of the college community to hear about real life experiences from women in these fields. It was also an opportunity for the panelists to share their best advice.

The audience, students and future women of the workplace were also given the chance to ask their own questions to the panelists or share experiences.

Some of the difficulties women face in the workforce discussed included stereotypes and misconceptions, discrimination, sexual harassment, wage gaps and overall lack of support. 

“One of the biggest things discussed is sexual harassment in the workplace and what its like to be terrified going to work,” Dr. Oxford said. “Some women end up just leaving that job because they are afraid and that results in a lost job opportunity.”

The panelists gave their best advice on navigating some of these issues from their own experiences. 

“I did my job, I never let the guys do my job for me,” Facteau said. “I held myself to a high standard. Ultimately those same guys who didn’t want me around. I was a young woman so I guess they saw me as this fragile girl, were eventually the same guys asking me to work in their blocks and when I left a lot were devastated to see me leave.” 

Other topics discussed had to do with women often having to balance their lives, many choosing to become mothers at some point in their career. This will sometimes require a shift of focus from the profession to taking care of their family. 

“In my field, you need to do certain things to get promoted like publicizing research and it takes a lot of time,” Ryan said. “I don’t want to play the kid card, but if you have a family and have to take care of your kids and you’re competing with a man who may not have a family, no children, not married whatever, there is a major difference in how much time you can spend on it. You might feel like you are constantly having to play catch up to keep family and professional life balanced. It’s hard, I’m not going to lie.”

The Women in Leadership club is a student-run organization on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus. The goal of this club is to bring to light the injustices of women and other marginalized groups when entering and navigating the workforce. 

The club is run by President Paola Jimenez and an executive board. 

“The reason that we wanted to host this event was because we wanted to bring in women from our college community and shed light on their merits throughout their careers,” Jimenez said. “Having them come and speak about their experiences and struggles can help inspire other women that are just starting their journey.” 

The club hosts weekly meetings on Wednesdays offering support, networking, workshops and an overall safe space for women to share their own experiences.

“This was also a safe space for women to share their past struggles and accomplishments as they build their careers” Jimenez said.

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