Panels Discuss Women in Business

Pensacola Success, gender support and inequality among women were big themes at the Women in Leadership conference held in March at the University of West Florida Pensacola Campus.

Dr. Tim O’Keefe, dean of the UWF College of Business, introduced UWF President Martha Saunders. Saunders’ speech centered on the evolution of women’s rights and her professional journey.

“They called us feminists, among other things,” Saunders said.

She reminded women that revolutions don’t go in reverse, and she encouraged women to help each other.

Wendy Murphy, associate professor of management at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, compared advancement of men and women in business and said only 4.6 percent of women are CEOs now.

“It’s unfortunate that we know these women by name,” Murphy said.

Murphy talked about the challenges women face today and how they can use relationships in their life to become more successful. She also discussed parental leave, which was a personal issue for her.

Murphy said one of the advantages women have today is that it is in the best interest of a company to diversify, and that means corporations are hiring more women.

“We have to change the social structure,” she said.

Both panels included successful women from different backgrounds. They discussed subjects related to gender power, dreams and how to relate with other people in the workplace.

The “Random Thoughts from Insanely Successful Women” panel centered on the experiences of different women and challenges they face. Sue Straughn, news anchor and senior editor for WEAR-TV, moderated the panel.

Mary Hoxeng, owner and general manager of two news radio stations, talked about the strategies some employers use and what people should be aware of before applying for a job.

“Don’t think employers don’t look at Facebook before they hire you, because we do, all the time,” she said.

They also talked about toxic relationships in the workplace and how to deal with them.

“Not every personality is going to match with every personality,” said Christy Manderson, vice president of sales at Highpointe Hotel Corporation. “If someone doesn’t like you, it’s OK. You don’t have to hang out with that person. Minimize your exposure to that person as much as you can.”

There’s a social misconception that people, who are not married or have children, and have a successful work life, are married to their job. Dr. Kim LeDuff, dean and associate vice provost of University College at UWF, addressed the issue.

“Sometimes when you’re single and don’t have any children, people assume you have all the time in the world to give to the organization,” LeDuff said. “They need to understand that you have a life outside of work.”

Attendees listen to a speaker during the 2017 Women in Leadership conference at UWF. 

The second panel, “Investing in Your Future and Owning Your Destiny,” focused on dreams, financial advice and life lessons from failures. The discussion panel was moderated by Christina Doss, managing director at Saltmarsh Financial Advisors.

Doss discussed interacting with unhappy people at work.

“When there is a disconnect and it doesn’t feel right, make a change,” she said.

President Saunders introduced special guest Bentina Terry, former vice president of customer service and sales at the Gulf Power Company.

Terry talked about leadership and the importance of being boundless in commitment and innovation. She invited everyone to include others.

She also emphasized the importance of support among women.

“Women who don’t support each other make their lives harder,” she said. “Supporting each other creates a legacy.”

Terry, who was leaving Pensacola to go to Atlanta to work as senior vice president of the Metro Atlanta Region for Georgia Power, said “I leave Pensacola being a better leader, a boundless leader.”

Dean O’Keefe gave Terry a fond goodbye.

“We know that you’re going to be successful, but your time here was too short.”

People who attended the event enjoyed it.

“I loved how diverse the event was,” Rennie Lindo, senior communications major said. “It’s a great opportunity to learn about what to expect before entering the work force.”

O’Keefe said it was good to look at the demographics because the University has more women than men graduating.

“I think it’s important for our female students to see various successful females,” he said. “It’s also enlightening and inspiring for everybody.”

Written by: Juliana Lievano, Student Intern for CREO.