Inaugural ‘Accelerating Women in Industry’ event held just days ahead of International Women’s Day

Written By Nicole Fuschino

The Rowland School of Business hosted their inaugural “Accelerating Women in Industry” event last Friday in the Lawrence Hall Ballroom.

This event came just before International Women’s Day on Sunday, Mar. 8.

This event was the first expansion of their “Women in Industry” Speaker Series, where once a month during the school year, a successful woman in a variety of industries comes to speak on campus.

This event was meant to be bigger — adding “accelerating”  to the title — with a mission of celebrating the progress and success that women have made, while still addressing current challenges women face in the industry.

The Rowland School of Business collaborated with WBECEast (Women’s Business Enterprise CenterEast), and Strong Women, Strong Girls Pittsburgh, which both have great presence in the city, according to Sandra Mervosh, Assistant Professor in the Rowland School of Business and the Director of the Human Resources Management Program.

“We want these programs to be inclusive,” Mervosh said. “We want them to welcome all walks of life: students, community members, and business members. That is our goal.”

Tying the event together with International Women’s Day is something that made sense to the mission of the speaker series, Mervosh said.

“We felt that it was good timing to link the event with an internationally known day,” Mervosh said. “We really wanted to focus on women.”

The turnout was bigger too, with seventy-five attendees that took part in breakout workshops, sat in on panel discussions, and listened to the advice from three women instead of one, like in the past.

Speakers included the President of WBEC East Elizabeth Walsh, the Co-President and Executive Director of Strong Women, Strong Girls Pittsburgh Jocelyn Horner, and keynote speaker: the Director of Human Resources and Civil Service for the city of Pittsburgh. Janet Manuel.

During her keynote speech, Manuel talked about the importance of being a mentor to accelerate women in industry, especially to people of other races, ages and genders.

“To all the ladies in the room, we need to do a better job of mentoring each other,” Manuel said. “If you are not a mentor, please become one. Our experience does matter.”

In addition to mentoring, Manuel said that being a coach takes mentorship one step further.

“How many of you have told another women about a job opening you came across?” Manuel said. “There is room at the table for all of us.”

Manuel also said that networking, such as attending the “Women in Industry” speaker series regularly and building a LinkedIn profile, are great ways to make connections with other people.

In her keynote speech, Manuel also spoke about the nation’s wage gap, with women holding less management positions than men while getting paid less, and possible ways to fix it.

“Representation on boards, having more female elected officials, seeing more females entering male-dominated fields, and supporting policies in the workplace that support women can all help,” Manuel said.

While Manuel spoke about the need for more progress to be made for women in society, she said it’s important to note that it’s not meant to discourage people, but to encourage them.

“We are not where we once were,” Manuel said. “There has been progress made, and we have to continue to build upon it.”

“I liked how she focused on movement, and that any progress is good,” Mara Van Thiel, freshman human resources management major and Secretary of the Student Human Resources Association, said about the keynote speech.

This was Van Thiel’s first time attending the speaker series event, where she attended their two workshops: one about unconscious biases, where they had the opportunity to recognize biases they didn’t know they had, and another about the importance of mentorship.

“I would absolutely attend more events like this in the future,” Van Thiel says.

Keynote speaker Janet Manuel said she was excited to come to Point Park so that she could share her encouragement to women around the time of International Women’s Day.

“It’s something really personal to me,” Manuel said. “It’s all about making sure people know that even though we’re not moving fast, we’re still moving.”