Women in Leadership, a new graduate student organization at the University of Mississippi, recently observed Women’s History Month with a panel discussion and luncheon to empower women in business to lead and build their reputations as women in their respective fields.
The organization strives to inspire women by giving them the opportunity to connect with others who value diversity and stand up for each other. It is open to any woman studying at the university level.
“As women, we are all here to support each other. It takes a whole village to pull off anything,” said Kate Newman, owner of Style Assembly, a womenswear boutique off Oxford Square. “It’s about finding a way around the barrier in everything you do.”
“It’s not about the problem you face, it’s about what you do to solve it.”
The Ole Miss observance has its roots in 1978, when educators in Santa Rosa, California planned and executed a local observance called Women’s History Week. The organizers chose the week of March 8 to correspond to International Women’s Day.
The movement quickly spread across the country, and other communities began to hold their own celebrations the following year. In 1987, Congress passed legislation to designate March as Women’s History Month, according to the National Women’s History Museum.
The March 9 panel included some of Oxford’s most successful businesswomen in leadership positions: Timber Heard, founder and CEO of Talitha Kumi Jewels; Erin Holmes, associate professor of pharmacy administration at the UM School of Pharmacy; Kate Newman, owner of Style Assembly; Catherine Hultman, operations coordinator for the Gertrude C. Ford Ole Miss Student Union; and Tonyalle Rush, associate vice president for student services and enrollment management at Northwest Mississippi Community College.
“I think it’s important for women to support women no matter what, but especially in business,” said Maia Dooley, both first and current president of Women in Leadership.
“The business world is still dominated by men. As women, we need to empower and inspire each other as we work together towards equality.
Panel members were asked about some of the challenges they face on a daily basis. A common theme on the panel was finding a way to balance it all out.
“It makes me feel better to hear these other successful women leaders say, ‘You know what, I don’t have everything together! ‘” Holmes said.
“Letting other women know you’re struggling, even though it may be difficult, opens up a lot of important conversations,” Hultman added. “Vulnerability goes a long way.”
Ashley McGee, Director of MBA Administration at Ole Miss, moderated the discussion and closed by asking each panelist what they wish they could say to their younger self.
“You don’t have to set yourself on fire to warm others up,” Rush said. “As women, we continue to take on more and more responsibilities.
“I wish I could tell my 25-year-old self to live in the moment, enjoy life and take care of yourself.”
Audience members ranged from Susan Duncan, dean of UM’s law school, to students and community members, like Tanisha Bankston, author of “My Pain is My Power.”
The women present, including the panel members, left inspired and motivated.
“The organization is focused on connecting with other women to foster an environment that allows us to grow in confidence and leadership,” McGee said. “I myself have learned a great deal from the leaders who have served on our panels over the past year, and have been inspired by the conversations our students have had with them. »