A panel of female industry leaders discussed how the introduction of Generation Y to the workforce has influenced the plight of today’s working women. The very active session, “The Next Generation of Female Leaders,” was part of IAEE’s Expo! Expo! Annual Meeting & Exhibition in Houston. While talk was lively and robust, the specific conversation topics seemed dull in comparison.
Gender-based bias in the workplace, salary inequality, lack of quality role models and the corporate glass ceiling were all discussed as per usual. Unsurprisingly, it was the audience, a mix of Generation Y, aged 20-39, and more senior workers who pointed that out to the panel.
“It saddens me that we’re still talking about it,” an audience member commented about salary inequality. “I didn’t ask; I nagged [for my raise]. There’s going to be a discrepancy if you don’t ask.”
Session moderator Gnosoulla Tsioupre-Lewis, senior vice president of People & Culture for UBM Live, led the panelists, Kelly Maguire, CMP, International Sign Association, Jamie Hillegas CMP, CEM, Produce Marketing Association and Susie Roberts, MBA, CMM, Society of Petroleum Engineers in a conversation that covered millennials’ perceived lack of workplace role models, career turning points, work-life balance, corporate support policies and networking among others.
On the perceived lack of female role models in the work place: “I’ve had a lot of different role models depending on the position I’ve been in,” says Roberts. “I’ve learned a lot from women who did it differently than I would have. It was a negative-impact learning lesson.”
On turning points and career lessons: “The best piece of advice I was ever given was keep emotion out of things,” says Maguire. “Cutting the emotional ties has helped me greatly.”
On the glass ceiling: “I think a lot of the onus is on our organizations and how they view talent and recognize the lost talent if they don’t promote women,” added Tsioupre-Lewis. “Rather than individual flexible policies, it’s about making the whole organization flexible.”
On work-life balance: “I’ve tried to really make a conscious effort to cut back on the work,” says Hillegas. “It’s actually really helped me trust [my colleagues] more, so I can focus on the big things.”
On the importance of networking: “A lot of the success men have in [an] organization comes from their willingness and ability to network,” says Tsioupre-Lewis. “It’s interesting that women say, ‘I’m so busy doing my job that I don’t have time to network.’ It’s an excuse.”
“Almost every position I’ve ever had was a reference,” adds Roberts. “Think of [networking] like you’re building your references.”