By Emily Rosman
St. Bonaventure’s annual “Women’s Issues in the Workplace Panel” was held this week to discuss the challenges women face and how they can be overcome. While women continue to make extraordinary strides in the professional world, panelist Ebony Hayes asserted the shocking observation that not one male administrator was in attendance.
Panelist Lori Quigley followed this discovery by stating that “March is known much more for ‘March Madness’ than Women’s History Month.”
The panel was held in honor of Women’s History Month in the Dresser Auditorium of the John J. Murphy Professional Building – transforming the familiar lecture hall.
Panelists included Dr. Lori Quigley, ’81, dean for Esteves School of Education at The Sage Colleges; journalism and mass communication professor Kimberly DeSimone, ’01; and Ebony Hayes, ’98, ’06, licensed real estate agent for Nothnagle Realtors. The moderator for the afternoon was journalism and mass communication professor Patrick Vecchio. Pauline Hoffmann, Dean of the Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication, made introductory and concluding statements.
Vecchio briefly outlined each of the main discussion topics including defining women’s issues in the workplace, discussing how the panelists have seen these issues affect the professional lives of the women they have worked with, how this inequity affects the companies they work for and what needs to be done further.
Quigley, kicking off the discussion, described the lack of respect for the female intellect. She spoke from the standpoint of an educator, and she explained how inequality between men and women affected the educational environment of universities. She noted that women face a lot more challenges trying to move up in their careers than their male counterparts.
When she worked as an associate dean, “All of the deans were men. All of the vice presidents were men.”
“It creates a different atmosphere of equity,” she said of her experience in having a female president at university such as Sister Margaret Carney.
DeSimone followed up on her statements while speaking from her experience working with Fortune 500 companies. She agreed with Quigley’s statement of having more men in the chain of command than women. Although about 50% of people in the Fortune 500 companies are women, only 3% of those women are on the boards.
She raises the question that most companies fail to consider: “Is the expectation and environment [in the workplace] conducive to all the people in it?”
Hayes agreed with comments made by both panelists and added her experience of racial discrimination to the conversation. Not only was she a woman that was trying to be successful – but a woman of color. She believes that women have to be on their game at all times in order to get anywhere in life. She gave a heartfelt speech about raising her premature child without paid maternity leave.
“I don’t want someone to tell me where I’m going to go, where I’m going to be and where I’m going to stay,” said Hayes.
All three panelists branched off of Hayes’s experience with a premature child and discussed women’s choice to have a child in general. They all agreed that men are expected to have both a family and a career while women are only expected to have a family. If they try to have both, as well, they are questioned as to why they would make the choice to have a child if they want a position of leadership.
DeSimone left us with her own uplifting, helpful advice to women: “We have to be a little more demanding and expecting.”
Following this panel discussion was the 14th annual Women of Promise award ceremony.
Dr. Mary A. Hamilton, the woman after whom the award was named, was a 1959 St. Bonaventure graduate who has also served as a chair of the journalism department. Hamilton has worked as a reporter and editor in New York City, Washington, D.C. and York, Pennsylvania.
The award is given, in her honor, to a female senior who excels in and out of the classroom and sets a good example for her peers. This year, the 2015 Woman of Promise Award was given to senior Anna Ciesla.
Quigley began the ceremony with anecdotes from her Seneca heritage that embraced the idea of women of promise.
She followed by sharing her appreciation of St. Bonaventure’s encouragement of women in the workplace. She especially took note of Russell Jandoli, who “respected the female intellect. Under his leadership, the St. Bonaventure chapter of Sigma Delta Chi journalism fraternity became the first in the world to initiate women.”
As she concluded her introductory speech, Pauline Hoffmann introduced Ciesla. She gave a brief background of Ciesla’s academic achievements at St. Bonaventure, describing her commitment to SBU-TV sports, working cameras, graphics and sideline reporting. She has been on the Dean’s List each year as well as being a member of Kappa Tau Alpha and Phi Alpha Theta honor societies.
As Cisela was called up to speak, she gave her thanks to the faculty and staff for presenting her with the 2015 Woman of Promise award. She spoke through tears her entire speech.
She gave a special thanks to journalism and mass communications professor Paul Wieland, stating that “Paul is a huge part of why I came here in the first place, and I’m not really sure there’s a proper way to thank him for all he has done for me.”
She followed this statement by thanking her mother for showing her what it really means to be a woman of promise.
Ciesla closed her speech with these wise words: “Never settle for any less than you deserve. If I had done that, I wouldn’t be here right now…so be the editor, the director, and the executive. There is nothing saying you can’t. Keep your standards, and your stilettos, high.”