Opinions & Editorials

We need more women in business: Part three

Noelle Ullery is a first-year economics and English double major. She is a staff writer for the Newswire from St. Louis.

While my last article touched on what Xavier is doing to improve the situation, I thought I would explore how successful or reasonable the university’s plans are.

Fortunately, I was able to speak with Tom Hayes, the Dean of the Williams College of Business (WCB). He reached out and talked about Xavier’s involvement to increase the number of women in business. After meeting with him, I knew the college was headed in the right direction.

First, the WCB is implementing programs and opportunities to encourage future generations of women to go into business. As I mentioned in the previous article, the WCB is starting a Center for Women in Business to target middle and high schoolers about the business profession. It gets young women to think about their future and form relationships with new people.

This is a smart decision for Xavier because it encourages younger generations to learn about business before even taking a business class. Education is necessary for change to occur, and business is often considered an “adult field.” It needs to be exposed to younger women so they have a more equal opportunity to succeed in their career.

Sharing new information with younger students is advantageous because they develop skills earlier. As they grow, the skills become second nature, creating more confident women in the workforce.

Hayes explained that women are less likely to negotiate a salary or wage than men. Yet, statistics show that women tend to do better than men academically. It does not make sense that bosses want to pay more to those who do not achieve as much.

The reason behind this gap has many factors, but the Center wants to lessen that gap through advocacy and education. It will hold speaker events, networking and professional opportunities that develop young, empowered women.

While this can be interpreted as a marketing or recruiting tool, I do not see it as the sole purpose of starting the Center. I view that only as a supplemental benefit for the school.

Xavier truly cares about getting more women into the business profession. It recognizes the struggles women face going into and being in the workforce. When a woman walks into an office, there are already stereotypes associated with her gender. The Center wants to help women know themselves so they are treated fairly and have an equal chance of success as men.

While there is a focus on a younger audience, the Center is also meant to support current undergraduate and graduate women. There will be mentorship and speaker opportunities that can help improve women’s careers and paths to achievement.

The intentional planning for the Center for Women in Business shows how serious the WCB is about helping women succeed.

Currently, there have been distinguished speaker series and women in leadership events to guide women on the right path. Having a space specifically for women in the WCB will create even stronger leaders.   

Hayes explained that an end goal for the WCB is to be a known resource for women. Women make up less than half of the WCB enrollment, so this center will offer a community for women to join and strengthen one another.  For example, the Center will hold conferences and provide opportunities for women to network with each other and executives.

The lack of women in the business world is not just a university or statewide problem but a national issue. The WCB is forming this Center to ultimately have more women in the business school.

Some may say that this is not enough. Or there is no point in trying because the systemic issue of gender inequality can never be solved. While I agree that this Center will not fix everything, I think it has great potential.

As a Jesuit institution, Xavier values diversity and fosters an inclusive community. In fact, the school’s mission statement is “men and women for others.” The Center for Women in Business embodies the core meaning of Xavier.

It acknowledges what challenges women face, and it strives to provide resources to receive what they deserve. It will create empowered women who can share their ideas in the classroom and offer that same energy in their career.

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