By Emmalyn Campbell
Most people are familiar with the concept of the “glass ceiling,” the invisible yet strong barrier that prevents women from rising to the top in typically male-dominated fields.
Some are not so sold on the glass ceiling even existing and insist that women will advance in certain career fields when they work hard for it.
Does the glass ceiling exist, and just how powerful of a barrier is it? What are the best and worst career fields for women? What does the workforce look like for Pennsylvanian women?
These were just some of the difficult questions posed at the “Timeless Women” expo on Thursday, Mar. 22.
Feminist Alliance, NCNW East Stroudsburg University, Queens of Color and Political Science Club hosted the event, as several other ESU clubs and organizations set up tables, posters and activities on the second floor of the University Center to highlight the accomplishments of women in their fields.
“We invited Dr. Sue Mukherjee, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Educational Intelligence for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, to discuss the impact women have in the PA workforce,” said Ariel Tucci, the president of Feminist Alliance.
“Our goal last year was to create an annual celebration of women for Women’s History Month to honor and highlight women in every major,” said Tucci.
“We invite as many clubs as we can on campus to participate and honor a woman related to their club.”
Honored they were. The tables were set up around 6 p.m., while the lecture began at 7 p.m. Political Science Club highlighted Shirley Chisolm, who was the first black woman elected to Congress, the first black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
PRIDE highlighted many famous women in the LGBTQ community, including Laverne Cox, Wanda Sykes, Jazz Jennings and Ellen Page.
Jewish Student Organization highlighted Gal Gadot, the Israeli actress best known for her role as Wonder Woman.
Chemistry Club had trivia about Marie Maynard Daly, the first black American woman to receive a doctorate in Chemistry.
Muslim Student Association had trivia about Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Prize laureate and activist for female education.
NCNW ESU created a poster about Mary McLeod Bethune, a civil rights activist and founder of the NCNW.
At 7 p.m., the event shifted to the Student Senate chambers, where Dr. Sue Mukherjee gave her lecture, “Women in Pennsylvania’s 21st Century Workforce.”
There were introductions by Dr. Kimberly Adams of the Political Science Department, Dr. Joanne Bruno, the Provost, and Ariel Tucci of Feminist Alliance.
There was a personal greeting read from First Lady of Pennsylvania Frances Wolf. She expressed her excitement at being able to collaborate with ESU’s Feminist Alliance.
“Women of every age, race, ethnicity and economic background have made historic and significant contributions to the growth and strength of our natio,” said Wolf.
Wolf praised the East Stroudsburg University Feminist Alliance for their impact on the lives of men and women in the community.
“By working to promote positive social change, this organization has continued to fight against sexual assault and domestic violence,” said Wolf of the Feminist Alliance.
Wolf went on to say the Timeless Women Expo gives women from all backgrounds and generations a chance to join together and celebrate women who have made a difference in various professions and subjects throughout history.
Pennsylvania’s First Lady applauded the Feminist Alliance for being an organization dedicated to the success of women across all walks of life.
She also encouraged all Pennsylvanians to recognize and appreciate the efforts of the Feminist Alliance to make a difference in a world characterized by imbalanced gender relations.
“As First Lady, and on behalf of all the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I am thrilled to welcome everyone to the Timeless Women Expo. Please accept my best wishes for continued success,” said Wolf.
Dr. Mukherjee’s presentation would be fact-based, but “this was meant to be a conversation” from her perspective because “you cannot have intelligent conversation without facts.”
Dr. Mukherjee pointed out that the workforce is particularly challenging for women of color and that conversations about women in the workforce must be intersectional.
The presentation then shifted to address the needs of students in the state system, as 41 percent of these students have parents whose income is in the bottom 60 percent.
Dr. Mukherjee encouraged questions during the presentation and left ample time for discussion afterwards.
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