Women in Leadership Workshop helps students find mentors, create career paths

About 100 students and alumni gathered February 22 at McKenna Auditorium for the 10th annual Women in Leadership Workshop. The event, billed as “redefining work and life,” offered professional women from a range of industries the chance to engage with 7C students and help them prepare for leadership roles.

In her keynote speech, Pamela B. Gann, J.D., President Emerita of CMC, recounted her own career journey and the stereotypes she faced along the way, such as being asked if she was “strong enough” to carry bags of mail when she applied for a law clerkship. Gann, who became dean of Duke Law School in 1988, noted that while much progress has been made, the Equal Rights Amendment passed by Congress in 1972 has been ratified in only 37 states and recently failed a ratification push in Virginia.

Her advice to students included urging them to take risks, to work in “demanding environments with the best people” (especially early in their careers), to pay attention to gender dynamics in the workplace, and to seek opportunities to work with the people producing the most revenue for a company. “You have to create your own path,” she said.

Gann also guided students to support and network with other women, find mentors and sponsors, and to develop self-efficacy. “Speak up, don’t be tentative, and don’t apologize,” said Gann, a Trustee Professor of Legal Studies, George R. Roberts Fellow, and Senior Fellow at the Kravis Leadership Institute.

Following Gann’s address, a panel of CMC alumnae—including San San Lee ’85, J.D., founding partner at her own law office; Harmony Palmer ’13, program manager at Lyft; and Charlie Fitzpatrick ’04, J.D., office director at NINE75—spoke about balancing work, relationships, family, and self-development. The audience also participated in an interactive workshop on creating their individual work-life goals.

The one-day event was sponsored by Susan and Thomas Handley ’77, the Berger Institute, the Kravis Leadership Institute, the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights, and the Women and Leadership Alliance.

—Susan Price