Monday, April 13, 2015

Alumnae Panelists Discuss Careers; SOS Award Conferred

The 2015 Women's History Month program concluded on April 2 with a Gender & Careers Alumni Panel Discussion & Mixer. An alumnae panel featuring eight women representing a wide variety of majors and career fields answered questions about the ways that gender has shaped their careers. The questions were submitted by members of the AAUW student affiliate, which was recognized as an official student organization earlier this semester. The event was co-sponsored by the Daemen College-Rosary Hill College Alumni Association, the Women's Studies Program, the AAUW affiliate, and the Daemen College Eaglettes.

Alumnae panel:  Back (L-R): Paula Y. Kregg & Stephanie Foreman.
Middle (L-R): Amy Wesolowski, Jessica Gorski, & Rosh-Neke D. Thomas. 
Front (L-R): Dr. Jennifer Gurske-dePerio, Cynthia Koscielny Karcher, & Annie Brady.

SOS Award

At the start of the event, Dr. Shirley Peterson, Dean of the Arts & Sciences Division, conferred the inaugural SOS Award on behalf of the Eaglettes, an organization of faculty women created in the 1970s with the mission of increasing women's presence in leadership roles at Daemen College. Named after Eaglettes founders Dr. Ruth Stratton (Political Science), Dr. Katherine Sullivan (English), and Dr. Betty O'Neill (English), the SOS Award supports female students at the college who demonstrate exceptional academic aptitude and leadership qualities. This is the first year the award has been conferred; the recipients were senior Dior Manning, who was instrumental in helping to establish the AAUW affiliate at Daemen and who serves as the club's President, and junior Annie Marie Rose, who holds a number of leadership roles on campus. Rose serves as President of the English Club and as editor of two student publications, the student newspaper The Insight, and the literary magazine, The Writer's Block.

Annie Marie Rose receives her SOS Award from Dr. Shirley Peterson
Dior Manning receives her SOS Award from Dr. Peterson

Gender & Careers Panel Discussion

Members of the alumnae panel addressed a range of questions that were clustered into five categories (big picture issues about gender and careers; in/equality, the gender pay gap, work/family balance, and campus life & after). The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Penny Messinger, Associate Professor of History and the Director of Daemen's Women's Studies Program.

Paula Y. Kregg: "When you feel you're in the right, 
you have to stand up for your rights."

Responding to the question, "What are some things about gender in the workplace that you wish you knew prior to starting your job?" Paula Y. Kregg ('70) described her family background growing up as one of 15 children in a family whose members questioned her decision to major in Theater Arts. Her career took an unexpected direction when she became an officer with Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority, which was a pioneering role for women during the 1970s: "I felt as if I knew my job, I should be able to progress," she said, "but I was looked at as being inferior because I was a female and always had to be more capable than the officers I worked with." She emphasized the difficulty that she had encountered as a black woman in a field that was "majority minority," and urged students to stand for their principles. "When you feel you're in the right, you have to stand up for your rights." 

Alumnae panel: Amy Wesolowski, Cynthia Koscielny Karcher, Jessica Gorski, Stephanie Foreman, Paula Y. Kregg, 
Rosh-Neke D. Thomas, & Annie Brady.

Amy Wesolowski ('89), whose degree was in Social Work, fielded a question about balancing work and family obligations and advised students to take charge of their lives and make decisions accordingly: "If you want to have a family, you have to be prepared. Be at work when you're at work, but let it [work] go" when you're at home. "It's easy for women to lose ourselves," she said, so "you need to make time for yourself."

After graduating from Daemen with a degree in Physical Therapy, Dr. Jennifer Gurske-dePerio ('99) continued her education and became an orthopedic surgeon. She talked about her experience as one of the few women in a field dominated by men, telling students to be tough and insist on equality with colleagues. "If you're treated badly, don't pass it on to the next generation," she advised. In her household, she noted that her husband is a "Mr. Mom" who has primary responsibility for caring for their children and home. Addressing a question about the amount of time provided for maternity and paternity leave, she explained that having children at points of peak career stress (as when starting a medical residency) had presented challenges for her.

Wesolowski, Koscielny Karcher, Gorski, Foreman, Kregg, Gurske-dePerio, and Thomas

Jessica M. Gorski ('08), who earned a degree in Adolescence Education-English, currently works as the Associate Athletic Director/Senior Woman Administrator at Daemen. She addressed questions about the gender pay gap by offering suggestions for negotiating salaries and benefits. Research salary figures in your field and use data in discussions with your employer, she advised. "Most women don't negotiate," she noted, which increases the gap between men's and women's pay.

Gurske-dePerio, Thomas, Brady, and Messinger

Both Annie Brady ('12), who graduated with a degree in English, and Rosh-Neke D. Thomas ('12, '14), who earned degrees in Psychology and Nursing, discussed gender dynamics in the workplace. Annie Brady works for the IRS and described the gender stratification she had observed in the workplace, recounting some "jokes" that co-workers had made about women's appearance. Rosh-Neke Thomas talked about working in a profession (Nursing) where women are a majority, drawing attention to the experiences of male nurses, who are a minority in the field. 

Rosh-Neke D. Thomas discussed student experiences

Stephanie Foreman advised students to "Read, Read, Read!"

Stephanie Foreman ('06), graduated with a Political Science degree. She currently works as a financial professional and has been President of the Buffalo Urban League Young Professionals since 2013. She described her epiphany as a sophomore when she realized how important it was to make the most of her college education. Take your education seriously, she advised students. Foreman drew upon on her experiences to offer students a four-point plan for career success:
1. Create a support system for yourself. Find a mentor in your field, but also lean on your family if they're supportive;
2. Understand that knowledge really is power, so take it seriously. "Knowledge can change your life, so know your field, do the research, and know what you need to succeed";
3. "Read, read, read!"; and
4. "Know your why. Why are you doing what you're doing?"
Foreman also talked about the difficulty she had witnessed for mothers who pursued careers in the corporate world, pointing out the discrimination they still faced in the workforce.

Wesolowski, Koscielny Karcher, Gorski, Foreman, and Kregg

Cynthia Koscielny Karcher ('98), who earned a Business degree at Daemen, offered practical advice for pay negotiation. "We have to learn to negotiate," she said. "If you can't get the money, negotiate for benefits, and don't sell yourself short." "It's always taken for granted that men are the breadwinners," she continued, noting that circumstances had changed as a result of more women entering the work force. Koscielny Karcher emphasized that taking charge of one's career included discussing salary, promotions, and perceived workplace discrimination with supervisors. "Ask the question--Why?" if you're passed over for promotion. She also advised students to consider job mobility in their careers, noting that "Career changes are the new norm."

Jessica Mark (H&P, '16), Stephanie Foreman (PSC, '06), Emily Kraft (HST, '16), & Dr. Penny Messinger at mixer. Jessica and Emily are both members of the AAUW Club, and Jessica came up with the idea for this event.

SOS Award winners Annie Marie Rose and Dior Manning
Read more about this event in the story featured in the April 13, 2015 edition of The Daemen Voice. 

** much thanks to the co-sponsors of this event, with special thanks to Kathryn Graf (Alumni Affairs Office) for recruiting and coordinating the communications with our alumnae panel, and helping to plan the event. Photos courtesy of Kathryn Graf, Jessica Mark, Stephanie Foreman, and Dr. Patricia Brown.

1 comment:

Penny Messinger said...

Read more about our SOS Award-winners in the Amherst/Getzville Courier:

Post a Comment