Mungano hosted a Women’s Panel on March 4. Attendees had the opportunity to hear from Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Darcy Russell, Instructor of Business and Economics Paulette Schwerdt, Admissions Counselor Deeva Sharma and Associate Director of Admissions Delynia Brown regarding the position of females in the workplace and in academics nowadays.
The discussion was facilitated by Mungano members, who asked the panelists questions centered around their experiences as women in leadership roles to spur conversation with attendees. The members had different answers based on their background.
Some of the most common topics centered around misconceptions and stereotypes of women. Schwerdt said that, to her, misconceptions “fall in the same category as double standards,” explaining that females handle the issues of misconceptions and stereotypes on a regular basis in various areas of life.
Sharma said the doubt she receives from males regarding her sex and skin color have empowered her.
“It’s going to be a constant battle for me no matter where I go. I’ve been taught ever since I was young that I would have to work twice as hard,” Sharma said. “I’ve felt empowered by it [because] it makes me want to fight twice as hard.”
Russell then took the time to point out the opportunities for the preparation of leadership skills available to females as college students, including the importance of the formation of a network.
“It’s not just how good are your grades and what experiences you’ve had, it’s connections with people at the school and [people] who can recommend you,” Russell said. “A lot of opportunity comes through that network, and leadership is part of that. People need to see that you can do what you say you can do, and they find out about that by talking to others.”
Russell said that grit and persistence are key qualities a female should develop in order to become a leader.
“Your skin gets thicker. You’re not so afraid of failure and you just kind of dive in and go for it,” Russell said. “I think more women need to do that. Give it your best shot because it’s probably going to be good if you give yourself a chance.”
The faculty explained the importance of having a healthy balance in one’s life in order to be successful in all areas. Even though the panelists had differing ideas of what constitutes balance, all agreed upon the importance of taking time for oneself at some point each week.
While the panelists all have different life experiences, they all agreed that female leadership is vital to society and encouraged the audience to achieve their dreams.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything. When they do, let that be your motivation to show them that you can,” Brown said. “We are our worst enemies because we put limitations on ourselves. Know that the sky is the limit, and you have cheerleaders here. No matter what your walk of life is, just know you can do it.”