The purpose of Women’s History Month is not to celebrate the accomplishments of women for a mere 31 days. Its purpose, rather, is to increase the consciousness and knowledge of historic women, women presently changing the status quo and those women who will undoubtedly make a difference in the future. Its purpose is to inspire and empower us all so that we may continuously recognize the remarkable triumphs that have been made and obstacles that have been overcome by once seemingly ordinary women. The NC State Women’s Center managed to capture the importance of women’s history as well as their current role in society through the Women Leading Change Panel that was held on March 16, 2016.
During my time here at NC State, I have had the privilege to witness the impact of numerous influential women who epitomize the definition of leadership, and these panelists were no exception. Dr. Jenna P. Carpenter, founding dean and professor of engineering at Campbell University; Fran O’Sullivan, IBM senior state executive for North Carolina and senior location executive for IBM at Research Triangle Park; Liza Roberts, editor and general manager of Walter magazine; and Gayle Lanier, senior vice president of customer services for Duke Energy, all eloquently answered critical questions regarding personal obstacles, principles for success, disproving stereotypes and the tireless effort to improve female opportunities in the workplace. Each woman tackled controversial topics with enthusiasm, poise, professionalism and immense insight. By the close of the program, the audience’s hands were raised and questions flooded from both women and men.
This program undoubtedly left its attendees better informed about the impact that women have in the workplace and challenged them to view the professional world from the female’s perspective. Panelists stressed their ongoing endeavor to achieve gender equality and to be viewed as professionals. What seemed to resonate with many in the audience, including myself, was that while many questions were focused on the struggles that the women faced because of their gender, each panelist made it a point to address the fact that being a woman was something they were proud of and, often times, was a characteristic that aided in their successes. As a female student in STEM, I have often considered the obstacles I may have to face in the workplace, as many of my female classmates have also probably contemplated. However, this panel managed, in one hour, to completely change my perspective. I walked out of the room feeling a sense of pride and a rush of energy, and like the rest of the audience, better prepared for the professional world.
Hannah-Rose Tucker, ’16, is a science, technology and society major from Clarksville, Virginia. She will begin graduate studies at Duke University next fall.