An idea sparked by Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk and book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” is now a Syracuse University club that’s spreading to campuses beyond the Hill.
Jamie Vinick, a junior marketing and finance major and political science minor, began The Women’s Network last year with the goal of supporting women and empowering them to lift up one another. Now, a year later, the club will be expanding to Cornell University’s campus in the spring, and becoming a national organization.
Vinick said she was raised with the mentality that she could do anything she set her mind to, but that was much different than how her grandmother was raised. Her grandmother was forced to choose between becoming a nurse or a teacher.
The difference in career options between generations made Vinick think society, in terms of women in the workforce, had progressed greatly. But when she read the statistics, she realized that wasn’t the case. In her shock, Vinick was motivated to create The Women’s Network.
She said she knew there were already several women’s organizations established on campus, but she still felt that there was a need for a club like hers.
“I knew the market was saturated, but I still wanted a share of it,” she said.
After going door to door in residence halls and handing out fliers, the first meeting drew more than 180 people in attendance. Now, there are 17 board members and more than 100 women in attendance at every meeting.
“The goal is to diversify the workplace and get more women into positions of power,” Vinick, the president, said.
To achieve that goal, each meeting highlights different themes. They discuss how to overcome barriers in the workplace and empower one another, as well as issues such as earning internships and scholarships. Despite members having different majors and interests, Vinick said she’s forged friendships with people she wouldn’t have met otherwise.
In addition to meetings, the club also invites high-profile speakers to campus to talk about obstacles they’ve faced in their careers.
“I have taken a lot from when the speakers have shared about what it’s like to work in a male-dominated atmosphere, and how to really stand up for yourself in the workplace,” said Isabella Taglioretti, sophomore health and exercise science major and the volunteering coordinator on the club’s board, in an email. “I also value the pieces of advice that the speakers have told us at the end of each meeting.”
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Last year, the organization hosted a networking trip to New York City, where they met with Baked by Melissa, CNN, NBC and Elizabeth Arden. Vinick said the trip exposed students to different careers and made them realize the paths they could take in the future that they might not have otherwise considered.
Taglioretti said she enjoyed the trip because it allowed her to practice her networking skills and envision where her career could potentially go in the future. She believes it’s important to have women’s clubs like this on college campuses because it helps women connect with each other.
“It allows young women to learn about gender-related issues and biases, and provides them with an opportunity to develop networking and leadership skills,” she said.
Remy Boyer, a junior studying advertising and information management and technology, and the head of advertising on the board, earned her internship at a public relations agency through the networking she did while on the New York City trip.
“It brings girls together on campus that might not have otherwise known each other,” she said. “It opened doors for me, which is why I believe in this club.”
Vinick said that after being in the club, she hopes that people understand the importance of supporting other women and that they will reach out and mentor other women — something she believes can be really powerful.
She said the organization has changed her life and hopes that other women’s lives can also be changed, either directly through the club or through being empowered by other women.
“It’s given me more confidence and courage,” Vinick said. “I think some people think success looks like a straight line, but I’ve realized it looks more like a jungle gym.”
Published on November 29, 2018 at 3:23 am
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