Battling the World: Women’s Style

February 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

This is the first of two guest posts by GT undergraduate student, Melissa McCoy. Melissa received a travel grant from the WRC to attend the Womensphere Conference she blogs about below.

When Womensphere’s Global Emerging Leaders Summit 2011 convened it brought together emerging women leaders (30s and under) from top companies in Corporate America, from top graduate schools (MBA, Engineering, Policy, Law) and from top undergraduate programs globally. I met undergraduate students there from nearby MIT, Harvard, and Columbia to  not-so-nearby University of Edinburgh and University of Sydney.  The Summit focused on inspiring impactful leadership in the greater community, personal growth and connections, and leadership and management in the context of young women’s careers. There were seven topic areas: (1) International Development & Fighting Poverty, (2) Environment, Health & Sustainable Development, (3) Business, Markets & Economic Growth, (4) Innovations in Medicine, (5) Pharmaceuticals & Health Care, (6) Entrepreneurial Leadership, and finally (7) Organizational Leadership, with a total of 25 incredible speakers to address them.

I wanted to attend the summit to learn more about these key issues facing the world and see how women leaders were spearheading initiatives to change them. I also wanted to meet and network with prominent women of my generation interested in and beginning careers in these areas. I had never attended a woman-oriented leadership event or program before and the experience was more eye-opening than I had expected. Specific issues that I had never considered were addressed, such as not being afraid to self-promote, knowing how to communicate in a man’s world, not needing to actually be a man to succeed, seeing your gender as an asset rather than as a disadvantage, and balancing a successful career with a family.

Since I have completed internships in several male-dominated industries from IT with Raytheon Company to reservoir engineering with BP, I could see how these discussions related to my own experiences and the future. I had never thought in a “women-centric” way nor realized the value of viewing ones situation from this perspective.  Some key insights: men are not the “enemy” and in most cases, can be your greatest advocates and supporters. It’s about making yourself seen and visible, understanding men but not needing to actually be a man, and always bringing your best to the table. Womanhood is an asset, not a liability, and you should come in to the workplace comfortable with who you are and how to work with your peers.

More than this knowledge on women’s leadership, I gained key insights into the seven topic areas, understanding more deeply what is occurring in these spheres and how one might take paths to become involved.  Each speaker had a unique background and distinctive career path. I came out of the conference inspired knowing that I may one day affect the world as they had.

To learn more about the conference and Womensphere visit these sites: http://womensphere.org/ http://womenspheresummits.com/?p=102

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