January 20th, 2017
The Lerners Women’s Symposium is set to kick off in a few short weeks and we are all very excited for this new speaker’s series and networking opportunity. We have been asked why Lerners is hosting and promoting an event directed solely at women. The Lerners Women’s Symposium is not meant to promote a “women versus men” mentality. It’s not that we do not think that men have valuable insight or experiences to share. However, we do believe that women bring a unique perspective and they experience things differently than men do. This perspective and experience helps other women to succeed in a predominantly male-oriented environment, and the value that the diversity of the female perspective brings is considerable.
Women have historically faced greater barriers than men with respect to inequality in the workplace. Although we have made significant strides towards equality, women continue to experience unique challenges in the corporate world. As a young woman working in a male-dominated field, I have often been made to feel as though I have to suppress my femininity and focus on more “masculine” traits in order to be respected or heard. Being a female who is “nice” is somehow interpreted as weakness or incapability and is cause for concern. Women are constantly faced with specific challenges and are generally presented with fewer opportunities for advancement, unequal opinions on important decisions, and a lack of support from those in senior-level positions, which can prevent women from succeeding.
The purpose of the Lerners Women’s Symposium is to encourage women to collaborate with one another, to support one another and to build strong relationships. Inequality in the workplace does not exist solely as a result of the attitudes and domineering traits of some men in senior-level positions. Often women who hold higher positions in the corporate world are not supportive of other women who are trying to rise up in the ranks. Women sometimes exclude other women from opportunities in order to gain a competitive edge. Because there are a minority of women in senior-level positions, women trying to rise up in the corporate world may not be viewed as an ally, rather as competition, and may not be given the same opportunities or mentorship as a male colleague would receive. Perhaps this can be attributed to decades of gender-discrimination, or perhaps the experiences that these women have had during their careers have taught them that they can only advance if they act this way.
However, women can accomplish incredible things when they support each other. The Lerners Women’s Symposium is an event where women are encouraged to share their experiences with one another, to learn from each other and to make valuable connections. It is a place to build confidence, to encourage one another and to learn that the loudest voice isn’t always the most knowledgeable or the most important. Meeting women who have faced similar challenges and have shared similar experiences is helpful in motivating other women to achieve their goals and to persevere through these unique challenges that only women face.