Women, including students, faculty and staff, of Murray State’s campus met at the Heritage Center Sept. 5 for a workshop geared toward female empowerment in the workforce.
The program, held by Leadership Women, a nonprofit organization, is meant to educate women in order to improve the status of females professionally and personally.
Leadership Women is a traveling program with different types of seminars open to women in the U.S. and abroad.
Candace O’Keefe Mathis, CEO of Leadership Women, said the goal of the program was meant to help women gather advice on becoming powerhouses in their professions and help them understand how to be effective leaders in the workplace.
“Women need to learn more to lead well,” she said. “We need to leave a positive lasting legacy.”
Carolyn Flynn, Murray native, and Trisha Cunningham and Lana Porter, Murray State alumnae, served as panelists for the event.
Both Cunningham and Flynn serve on the board of directors for Leadership Women, and brought the program to campus.
The panelists’ resumes complemented the message of female empowerment in the workplace the program tried to convey.
Cunningham, Flynn and Porter but were only a portion of the event.
O’Keefe Mathis said the first step toward becoming a strong leader and leaving that legacy of being a powerhouse is to build relationships with other women.
O’Keefe Mathis, who has 26 years of experience with Leadership Women, said the biggest change over time has been the women themselves.
“When we started, women coming to the classes were fairly similar in background,” O’Keefe Mathis said. “Now, there is a big change in diversity, in ages and ethnicity.”
O’Keefe Mathis particularly enjoys working with Generation Y, the generation about to enter the job market.
The biggest generation in history has the potential to do big things, she said.
While building relationships between women is important, it is also important to not exclude men, O’Keefe Mathis said.
Identifying herself as a feminist, she pointed out the importance of equality between the sexes, not the domination of one over the other.
Pamela Benson Owens, the programming consultant for Leadership Women, led a seminar on owning the strengths women have, instead of living in the weaknesses women see in themselves.
“Women will go to lunch with their girlfriends and talk about how they’re not qualified,” Owens said. “A man has already started moving into the office, printing out his business cards and started networking before (women) have even decided (they) are qualified.”
Owens stressed the importance of women knowing their strengths but not overly focusing on them, while also keeping their weaknesses in context.
When a woman knows she has a weakness, she should not be afraid to admit it as a weakness. Instead of doing a poor job, get help, she said.
Leadership skills are important and useful everywhere, Owens said, but added women have a tendency to take on too much.
“Women wear busy like a badge of honor,” she said. “Don’t be afraid of taking a break. We should see another woman working herself hard and tell her honey, you need to take a nap. We have to have each others’ backs.”
Story by Amanda Grau, Staff writer