Think back to your first job after college. For many, we were clad in a discount Target suit, knees shattering with nerves, walking with fake confidence and shaking with a hand that resembled a dead fish. The confidence you exude today likely took time to build. You had missed opportunities, didn’t properly negotiate your wages and you probably came up with plenty of great ideas that got presented under someone else’s name. If you knew you could do it all over again and start off with the knowledge you have now, you would, right?
NDSU’s Women In Business group is doing just that – they’re getting a head start on the real world lessons most of us had to learn the hard way. Hanna Lange and Samantha Wojcik have struck a cord that is resonating with women across the campus. The Women in Business Group they founded this past fall has already grown to more than 90 registered members.
Lange and Wojcik had joined the investment club, BisonFun, and were impressed with the resources and opportunities the group gave them. They found themselves feeling out of place, however. They were frequently the only females in not only the group, but in the board rooms they visited. “We need to change this. We need more women in this profession,” Lange said.
Together, they started making calls and forming their new group, Women in Business. The NDSU College of Business Board and various community members donated money and helped them build connections with local businesses to aid in their new venture becoming such a wild success. “There are so many specific groups on campus and something that I struggled with right away was which one do I fit in, and this one just kind of encompasses all women in business,” Wojcik explained.
Members have the opportunity to attend two business tours or professional speaker events and two community-bonding activities each month. “We wanted to get all the girls to know each other because in our society there is so much of a girl-against-girl mentality that we wanted to build a mentality of women that support each other within the College of Business,” Wojcik said.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report found that the amount of female leaders in the workplace has increased by an average of only over the past ten years. At this rate, the report states, it would take 217 years to close the economic gap.
Local business executives have presented to the group about valuable career issues that aren’t typically taught in the classroom, such as how to stand out in a crowd, negotiate pay, write a cover letter, goal map and even utilize your LinkedIn account. “I hope to see more women pursuing majors that they otherwise wouldn’t have if they didn’t have this organization pushing them to do that. We just really want to build confidence in the women in the college and in the community,” Lange said.
They hope to begin to connect with area high schools and start promoting women to go into careers that have historically been male-dominated. Many of their guest speakers have voiced how women tend to stand in their own way. A Hewlett Packard internal report found that men apply for a job when they meet only 60 percent of the qualifications, but women only apply if they meet all of them.
More troubling, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, which looked at data gathered from LinkedIn, found that the amount of female leaders in the workplace has increased by an average of only 2 percent over the past ten years. At this rate, the report states, it would take 217 years to close the economic gap.
Lange and Wojick’s goal is to remove the barrier women put up in front of themselves. They would also love to partner with more area businesses and attend local and national conferences as a group to gain more exposure to a variety of networking and skill-building opportunities.
Women In Business has not only filled a need on campus, but it has also given Lange and Wojick a crash course in executive leadership. “It has honestly been the best thing that I have done in my entire life,” Lange explained. “I have gotten so much out of it. Even learning how to be a leader. Being an executive and having a team of girls that rely on you to be so organized and on top of everything has really taught me a lot and just how to lead effectively and to make sure everyone on your team is satisfied and knows what they’re doing and feels happy.
“A leader is so many different things. There are so many things that go into being a good leader, and everyone says that they are a good leader but until you actually practice it a lot, it is really hard. You don’t actually really know. So I guess this has just really taught me a lot about myself and where I need to improve,” Lange continued.