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Living My Values Through Yale SOM’s Women’s Empowerment Conference

At the Women in Management club’s annual conference, attendees swapped friendship bracelets and learned how women’s leadership drives economic growth. Organizer Cinthya Garibay ’24 reflects on a unique event.

Fempire is the Women in Management club’s flagship conference. This student-led initiative celebrates and empowers female-identifying leaders in business and society, bringing together students, alumni, professionals, and community members. Co-leading this year’s event with my classmate Amanda Quenard y Fuentecilla has been a highlight of my SOM experience.

I learned the importance of female empowerment at a young age. My hardworking single mother, and the strong women who surrounded her, made sure I understood that families, companies, and societies thrive when women succeed. As a young professional, I encountered the feminist author Caroline Criado Perez, who writes about the “gender data gap”—basically, the idea that our society makes important economic, healthcare, educational, and policy decisions with data that fails to consider gender. Data too often reflects men’s, rather than women’s, experiences, and that has been a crucial root cause of inequality. Her work inspired me to pursue a business degree.

Fempire embodies the values I’ve been cultivating my entire life. In fact, I decided to organize this year’s conference around the theme “She Was Saying” in homage to the numerous occasions when I’ve seen women dismissed or overlooked. During the conference, attendees got to hear from powerful women including Mary Ellen Iskenderian, CEO of Women’s World Banking, and Nancy Mahon, the chief sustainability officer at Estée Lauder. Speakers discussed innovative solutions for navigating uncomfortable conversations and ensuring that the appropriate people get credit for ideas or work.

Two people pose with a dog under an arch of balloons
A group of people sitting and listening to a conference panel
Students smiling under a balloon arch

We wanted the conference to be loud, so we made it as pink and bold as the ideas we were preparing to discuss. Inspired by the summer of Barbie and Taylor Swift, we leaned in fully into a bright aesthetic—a far cry from the sober materials often distributed at other conferences. This choice, though risky, set the perfect tone for our discussions and made for a far more fun and memorable time.

One thing that stood out to me from this year’s event was the number of new friendships formed. Attendees, speakers, and company partners from beyond SOM and outside Connecticut—including a record number of male allies and colleagues—all forged meaningful connections. As a symbol of these new bonds, the conference leadership team crafted friendship bracelets for each participant, gifts which emerged as emblems of the conference.

In the past year alone, I’ve observed how women’s leadership and consumer power shapes our culture and economy. This phenomenon is not isolated to the United States; global examples have repeatedly shown that investing in women lifts entire communities. This enduring truth drives my hope that Fempire attendees will continue to support and elevate the women around them.

As I prepare to graduate, I am optimistic that SOM will further expand its commitment to women’s leadership, building on the strong foundation laid by this year’s Fempire conference. I hope we can all continue holding space for each other and ensuring that everyone is heard.