The Women’s History Month Colloquium in collaboration with the Women’s Center of York College held an event on March 30.
The event took place on the third floor near the atrium, toward the end of Women’s History Month. The main idea of the event was centered around a book titled, Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make that Sabotage Their Careers, by Lois P. Frankel.
“I see myself in this book,” said Ebonie Jackson, the manager of the York College Women’s Center. “I noticed that there were things I would do that held me back.”
Frankel’s book touches on certain behaviors and actions by women in the workplace that not only hurt them, but their career aspirations in the long run. There are 133 mistakes women make or unknowingly commit throughout their working careers, according to the book. From striving for perfection to apologizing unnecessarily, Frankel’s book gives advice for dealing with the flaws that prevent women from being successful.
A panel of speakers included Patricia Thomas, the executive coach of the Thomas Coaching Company, Rhonda Binda, the executive director of the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District.and Dr. Lindamichelle Baron, an assistant professor at York College. The women shared their experiences with self-deprecating behaviors and obstacles they faced.
Jackson said external factors played a role in limiting women’s careers while keeping focus on the main topic.
Thomas, who founded her company in 1999, said modern women need to break free from traditional roles.
“Women have been socialized to act in certain ways and as we develop from girls to professional women, we still act like girls,” she said. “And its counter-intuitive to becoming a professional woman. I used to be an English teacher in high school in New Jersey and I wanted to challenge myself. Over time I was able to transfer my skills from teaching to business-from presenting, talking, and engaging in sales. What I didn’t realize at the time was that teaching prepared me.”
When Thomas started working for AT&T, she said HR had stereotyped her. She said the employers questioned if she was qualified to work for the company.
“I thought maybe he wasn’t used to women being so direct, or African-American women being direct,” said Thomas. “I remember one time, I heard rumors from other people that the boss would be giving out a promotion for my position, and I thought I would get the promotion. I was surprised when a few days later, someone else got the promotion. So I learned to make no assumptions”.
Baron said women have to stand up for their rights.
“As a professional woman, you have to be clear and speak up,” said Baron. “Women are socialized to be sweet, polite, not ask for too much but it does not benefit them in the long run. Plus, there is a lot of competition.”
Jackson noted that when women are too focused on getting work done as opposed to maintaining a balance, they appear frantic to their colleagues. Binda added if work is being done and not taken credit for, they will also get overlooked.
29-year-old York Psychology major Tesha Dedious recalled the atmosphere in her working environment as unhealthy.
“I remember when I used to work for a private company, I noticed that people treated me negatively,” she said. “It was their tone, how they spoke to me and I noticed that they didn’t do that with the other women.”
Binda, who worked in a law firm in 2004, described facing that similar situation.
“I was very hyper-sensitive about relationships,” she said “I wanted to be recognized for my work in the office, and when that didn’t happen I was frustrated.”
All of the organizers said that having mentors is important to help employees build relationships within a workspace. They advise women, especially, to get a mentor if they work in a management environment.