Gillian Daley/ Contributing Writer
For many years, women were barred entry to many different arenas of the professional world. That’s especially true when discussing career fields in business, finance or entrepreneurship.
In today’s America, women are often told to stop reaching for equality. We’re told to be thankful for the leaps and bounds forward that we’ve come since suffrage. We’re told to compare ourselves to women in other parts of the world and granted even less freedoms or economic opportunity by their respective patriarchal societies. We’re told feminism is obsolete for the western woman.
Not long ago, the Women Empower Expo was held at the Fort Lauderdale’s Convention Center. The mission of WEX is to ‘educate and equip’ female business owners, entrepreneurs and young innovators so that they’ll be able to break barriers in male dominated arenas.
WEX was created for women and by women to propel them and their ventures successfully into the business world.
WEX and other organizations ignore the voices that blare from across the lines of the opposition, telling us that we should be grateful for every inch the male-dominated business world grants or that it’s something we need in order to successfully reach total equality in the professional sector.
Fostering environments that are beneficial to women and their success in the business sector is essential. Women’s issues like the pay-gap, workplace discrimination, glass ceilings and ever present social constructs, which steer women into opting for less competitive/lower paying careers, should be given a platform.
There’s a great need for programs like WEX, as the rate of women breaking their way into the professional sector has risen exponentially in the past few years. From 1997 to 2006, the number of fully women-owned or majority women-owned businesses increased at nearly twice the rate of any other type of U.S. firm, according to the balance.com.
It’s so important for women in male dominated industries to have networks of support. Organized events like WEX provide opportunities to bring young entrepreneurs and community leaders from campuses like FIU out to learn and gather resources. One of FIU’s largest feminist organizations on campus, the National Organization for Women was invited by the event’s planners to experience what WEX was all about.
“I felt so proud to represent the National Organization for Women. I was inspired by the energy and love amongst the women at this event,” said Linda Guillotti, outreach director of N.O.W and a junior majoring in psychology. “Women at FIU can benefit through WEX because it’s meant to have your ideas and goals expressed within a network of other professional women looking for innovative business plans and investments.”
It goes far beyond simply joining together to encourage one another. This event is about making substantive changes in the future of young women, networking strategies and connecting young women with leaders in the female-owned business world.
There are even annual investment pitch competitions hosted by WEX in which contestants compete for the opportunity to win business funds and executive coaching.
“As you walk through the rows of tables, you can find clothing boutiques, financial consultations, published authors selling their success stories and even yoga classes,” Jessica Naylor, the social media organizer of N.O.W and a sophomore studying art and advertising. “Conventions such as WEX allow women to gain knowledge necessary for the advancement of their careers, perspectives and lives.”
This event and events like it could prove to be an invaluable opportunity for young women at FIU. The professional universe may often seem like a place only inhabited by men, so having a chance to gain business advice, mentoring and techniques from women who’ve carved out success for themselves is paramount.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
Photo taken from Flickr.