Student-run club prompts networking for the advancement of women in the workplace
When Sarah Camara '23 arrived on campus as a first-year in the fall of 2019, she challenged herself with an upper-level business course that had only two other female students.
"That was a little intimidating in my first semester as a college student," Camara says. "I found myself wanting to connect with more women interested in business, and my advisors mentioned that Assistant Dean Melissa Pacheco was finishing her dissertation entitled: 'Silent no more! Advancing Portuguese American Women in Higher Education Leadership: Voices from the Field,' and had been looking to start a student-run club that runs similarly to a corporate employee resource group (ERG).
"We put our minds together to discuss strategies and priorities, and founded the Charlton Women in Business (CWIB), holding our first interest meeting in January of 2020."
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Just two months later, COVID-19 sent the entire campus home, forcing Camara and other executive board members she'd recruited to pivot strategies for recruitment to a brand-new club.
"We faced challenges not only with COVID-19, but also because of the amount of turnover we had between undergrad and graduate students involved," said Camara. "There were members who joined in January and graduated before we got to see each other in person again. This forced us to pivot strategies and recruit remotely for virtual meetings."
While a rough start for a new organization, this adaptive attitude provided valuable lessons for future business leaders. Like joining a startup in its youth phase, creating a club from scratch needs a team working in tandem.
"For E-board members, CWIB poses a fantastic opportunity to get practice working cross-functionally as a team," says Camara. "Regardless of the event or campaign we're working on, we always have a list of checks and balances for logistics, marketing, and outreach. We all work in unison with each other, which is a great trait to develop before graduating.
"A lot of the skills we work on are translatable to the real world. In multiple internship and job interviews, I've been asked to expand on my role with CWIB after interviewers saw it on my résumé."
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For students who don't have the time to serve in a leadership capacity, Camara points out that just attending general body meetings is also a highly valuable experience, as every member of the group is there to network with and learn from one another.
"Regardless of whether you're a business major or not, you're likely going to have to work on a team in an organization," says Camara. "We try and keep our meetings casual and intimate so that members feel comfortable meeting new people, talking about their interests, and exploring new possibilities.
"It's so valuable for younger students who haven't declared a major yet to talk about different interests and career paths with seniors and even graduate students who've lived that journey."
"My biggest takeaway with having a leadership position in CWIB is having the space and voice to advocate for what students need," says Vice President of CWIB's undergraduate division, Kelly Grodecki. "By taking a leadership position within an organization we can identify and tackle the different needs for students on campus by hosting events targeted to those needs. Whether that's career development or feeling a sense of community within CCB, it feels good to make an impact in some way on our campus."
Women in business
Women face many barriers on their journey up the corporate ladder, earning 84 percent as much as their male counterparts in the same role. This number is even lower among the Black (67%) and Latina (57%) women. Beyond pay, women aren't promoted at the same rate, or to as high a level as their male counterparts when having equal experience and job performance. These "glass ceilings" and "broken rungs" in the corporate world aren't new issues, and Assistant Dean Melissa Pacheo says the needle has moved only slightly over the years.
"As women, we must work together to ensure the voices of our fellow women are heard, and recognize that we have an obligation to help each other," says Pacheco. "We also need our male allies, who play an incredible role in helping to ensure equity and inclusion. When everyone has an opportunity to come to the table to be heard, accepted, and to be treated fairly, we all win. The CWIB provides an outlet for our students to work together, to learn together now, so they can make a difference at UMassD, and when they become our future leaders."
Curious about joining CWIB? The executive board has answered some common FAQs below:
Is this exclusive to business majors?
No! We welcome any member on campus to join! Regardless of your career, everyone works in part of a business or organization, and building a network of support will help anyone.
Is this exclusive to women?
No! Our purpose is to network with, build up, and support women in business, but anyone can help accomplish this mission!
How do I sign up?
How often does CWIB meet?
E-Board members meet one hour a week to discuss priorities and strategies. The entire membership meets on an ad hoc basis depending on events.
What experience do I need to apply for an E-Board position?
None! We welcome anyone to apply for the role they think fits best. Electoral candidates are voted on based on their personal statements about their interests in CWIB and experiences.
Are there any membership fees?
Nope! You have nothing to lose, and a vast support network to gain by joining the Charlton Women in Business!
Celebrating Women's History Month
During March, Women's History Month, the CWIB and CCB Graduate Programs office brought awareness to women who have and continue to make a difference by posting pictures and quotes from inspiring women in CCB, and hosted a free event named after a quote by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, "Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History," which featured two women from the SouthCoast community to engage in conversations on how CCB students can make a difference.
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