Women find empowerment at conference

Eli Vera/Staff Writer

The Women’s Center celebrated the eighth annual “Women Who Lead Conference” at Biscayne Bay Campus with a day-long set of conferences to connect students with professional women who hold leadership positions.

This year’s keynote speaker was Donna Brazile, political strategist, adjunct assistant professor in the Women’s Studies Program at Georgetown University, Chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute and syndicated newspaper columnist for Universal Uclick among many other accomplishments.

With a sense of humor that kept the audience laughing while Brazile was on stage, she shared an anecdote about the first time she met Ronald Reagan and practicing diplomacy when being asked about the ex-president on TV.

“I mean I’m dressed, I have my makeup, my hair is done and they’re like now you gotta talk about Ronald Reagan,” said Brazile. “Who? I’m a Democrat, I mean what are you going to say about Ronald Reagan, and of course my parents always taught me to be respectful, thank the Lord they did, because I looked into the camera and said, he’s a handsome man.”

Brazile explained her reaction to meeting former president Reagan in her first White House visit at 23-years-old.

“ I had just finished working on a campaign to make Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday,” said Brazile. “I looked up and said ‘Wow, you know TV is not doing any justice to this man, this man is handsome!’ For a moment he wasn’t a Republican he was a handsome man.”

All jokes aside, Brazile also shared with students about the moment she decided she wanted to serve from a very young age.

“I wanted to help lead the campaigns, to help organize, and to get people registered to vote, I wanted to keep Dr. King’s dream alive,” she said.

On that note, Brazile called out to the women in the audience, encouraging them to take leadership roles.

“We need you now, and why you? Because there is no one better, and why now? Because tomorrow is not soon enough; this is your moment you have to seize it,” she said.

Brazile’s strong emphasis on encouraging women to be the leaders of the future left  Heather Callam, an alumna who finished her psychology degree in 2006, with a positive message to look forward to.

“I love the advice that was given and being amongst women leaders inspires me to live up to my true potential,” said Callam.

Other workshops throughout the day were the “Women of Color in Leadership,” “Speed Networking” and “Salary Negotiation” with Kimberly Taylor,  associate professor in the department of marketing.

Taylor’s workshop set out to empower and motivate the women in the audience to stop apologizing for being competent, and to not be afraid to be too good.

“One thing that is very true about women and negotiations, we are very good at negotiating on behalf of other people” said Taylor. “Why don’t we fight so hard for ourselves? And we should. You are good and you don’t need to apologize to anyone for that.”

A few tips that Taylor shared with her audience during the workshop included knowing your priorities when looking for your ideal job and learning how to justify that salary raise you deserve.

“You can’t ask for money just because,” said Taylor. “But if you have more degrees if you have more experience if you have certain things that can justify and that the organization can justify paying you differently then that’s okay.”

Taylor also advised the audience to start looking for jobs as students, because desperation sets in after graduation.

“While you are students you have this leverage because you are a student and you are looking and many companies are here and they are looking for you,” she said.

Valerie Regis, a senior marketing communications major with a focus on public relations, expressed her appreciation for the tips given to her at the workshop.

“In the salary negotiation workshop I really enjoyed the tips that Dr. Taylor gave us in terms of how we can comfortably approach our employer in terms of negotiating salary.”

Emily Martinez, junior psychology major, also got her dose of encouragement and motivation at the “Salary Negotiation” workshop.

“Growing up I was told that when it comes to a job it’s not always good especially if you don’t have experience, here I learned not only to know my worth but most importantly how to go about it.”

After the workshop, Taylor explained that generally women still get paid less than men in part because women don’t ask as much, so they don’t negotiate. Also part of it is choosing different professions.

“Let’s compare an elementary school teacher with a bachelor’s degree to an engineer with a bachelor’s degree, and if women are more apt to choose being an elementary school teacher and men are more apt to choose engineering those are paid differently in the marketplace,” said Taylor.


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