Fill The Room With Women

I attended a networking event earlier this week focused on getting a summer internship for PR & Advertising students. It included a panel of five recruiters from agencies here in Chicago with time afterward for networking. When the panel walked out to take their seats, the very first thing my friend (Anna Wolf, fellow HC writer) and I noticed was that the panel was made up of all women. All five women seated at that table were women. Three out of the five were women of color. It was so striking that Anna and I felt compelled to point it out to each other.

You may be thinking, okay? So what?

This moment was important to me because it is only in these situations - a room of all women, or a panel of all women - where I realize how rare it is that I find myself in those situations. For women, I think we are all familiar with being the only, or one of the only, women in the room. We see that situation often in boardrooms, played out on television, and evident in professional settings. It is common, almost expected, to see the one token woman seated at the table, remaining mostly silent. If an all-male panel had walked out, I don’t think I would have noticed anything out of the ordinary.

These spaces are essential to create: rooms and panels of women speaking up. As a woman, it is essential for my growth and confidence to see women where I want to be. Getting essential advice from these women was more impactful for me than hearing from a man would have been. I want to hear from the women in the room. I want there to be women in the room. I want - no, need - for it to be normal to see an all-female panel. I am grateful to my male professor for creating this space, whether it was intentional or not because seeing those women sitting before me gives me a newfound motivation to create future spaces for the ones that will come after me.