Conference Addresses Gender Equality in the Workplace
October 18, 2014
By DREW PARKER Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register
WHEELING – Equal opportunities are still a concern for women in the workplace, according to West Virginia University Provost Joyce McConnell.
McConnell addressed attendees of the Women & Technology Conference on Friday at Oglebay’s Glessner Auditorium. McConnell addressed misconceptions she feels prevent women from achieving their goals.
“Women have to be willing to claim their space,” McConnell said. “If you don’t put yourself out there and apply for jobs you’re saying ‘no’ to yourself. Let someone else do that.”
Photo by Drew Parker
McConnell said some previous mentors in her life did not believe women could achieve certain workforce feats.
“There is still discrimination against women in the workforce. I don’t think it’s always intentional, and it’s how we were raised,” McConnell said. “I was number one in my high school class and had just skipped my senior year, when my counselor told me I was so smart, that I could be an executive secretary. If I would have just believed her, I wouldn’t be here today.”
The TechConnect West Virginia sponsored conference, held Thursday and Friday, featured a series of presentations by prominent business women including McConnell, Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA Administrator and United-Secretary for the Department of Commerce; Nikkie Bowman, CEO of New South Media; and Emily Calandrelli, producer of Fox’s Xploration Outer Space. About 100 women were in attendance, according to Anne Barth, TechConnect West Virginia executive director.
“Women are under-respresented in STEM and technology jobs across the board,” Barth. “This is an effort to bring together women from all professions to find strategies for increasing those numbers and address issues like the pay gap and finding untapped potential through women in technology.”
Danica Lohmeyer, an independent consultant, attended the conference for the first time this week.
“We need to remove the stigma that women are held back in any way, shape or form, period,” Lohmeyer said. “The stigma is there but we don’t have to acknowledge it. I think the women we saw here today are successful because they ignored those obstacles.”
Sydni Credle of Crosscutting Research Division in Morgantown also attended the conference, and said hearing the various speaker’s stories was immensely helpful.
“It’s one thing to hear advice, but it’s another to hear relevant stories that can apply to my life,” Credle said. “The conference has helped me identify my strengths and connected me to resources I can use once I return home.”