Since March was Women’s History Month, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to engage our classmates in discussions about gender dynamics at SOM and beyond. With the full support of the SOM Deans’ Office, we led a team of fellow students, faculty, and staff to create a series of events exploring contributions of women in our community. The result was our first-ever WIM Week, held from March 23 to 27. The events that took place throughout the week included an interactive skit performance which took a satirical and humorous look at situations women face in business school, an open forum discussion on gender at SOM, a workshop on confidence-building, an alumnae panel where women shared their experiences with gender in the workplace, and an informal reception where the community had the opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned from the week’s events.
Our most popular event of the week was by far the skit performance, titled “Beyond Bros and Broads.” The skit event included four sketches which dealt with gender in learning team situations, recruiting, and social interactions. Each skit was followed by a short discussion about the themes illustrated by the skit, as well as the best ways to respond when faced with these situations. After viewing the skits, one student reflected that, “It was alarming how easily and unconsciously we perpetuate stereotypes of what women are.” Another student shared his views that, “there shouldn’t have to be a workaround, but I think levity is a great workaround to bring a level of conscious understanding to an unconscious bias.”
We were fortunate to have several successful alumnae also return to SOM to share their experiences after business school, including Beth Axelrod ’84, SVP of Human Resources at ebay; Liddy Karter ’84, Managing Director at venture capital firm Enhanced Capital; Danielle King ’07, Manager at the Museum of Modern Art; Ilze Melngailis ’01, Senior Director of Global Partnerships at the United Nations Foundation; Raisa Reyes ’13, Associate Director of Strategic Growth at Year Up; and Michele Rhee ’01, Patient Advocate at Bluebird Bio.
The panelists shared candid perspectives on a variety of topics, including mentorship, gender diversity across industries, career path obstacles, and challenges related to starting a family:
- SOM alumna Danielle King ’07 shared that, “the phrase ‘having it all’ annoys me to no end – no one ever asks if men can have it all. There’s this loaded expectation that women should not only have it all but do it all, perfectly.”
- Liddy Karter ’84 reflected that, “I see a lot of young women in my industry bailing because they don’t think they can get the right opportunities. The firms have the ability to give these opportunities to them – the women just have to ask. You don’t get to the positions to influencing the world unless you stick with it. When it gets hard, keep going.”
Overall, WIM Week was a great success – the events brought together perspectives from across the SOM community and sparked conversations about gender issues that have continued well into the following week. We hope that these topics will continue to be discussed openly and often by male and female students, both here at SOM and after we re-enter the working world.
Yale SOM WIM week data