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Rasika Karnik: Michigan Business Women

Name: Rasika Karnik

Major: Business, Class of 2016.

Hometown: Troy, Michigan

Fun fact(s): I will watch anything on ESPN, except pool. Also, when I was six, I told my parents I wanted to be the first female President of the United States. But I'm on board with Hillary— I'll just be second female President of the United States.

Rasika Karnik is involved in many clubs on campus. In addition to her involvement in a pre-law fraternity, Kappa Omega Alpha, Rasika is involved in Michigan Business Women (MBW), a student organization that promotes women’s involvement in business.

Rasika joined Michigan Business Women as soon as she started in the business school because she loved the idea that there was a community of women in Ross. At its core, Michigan Business Women is a professional organization that hosts recruitment events intended to connect women to different employers and opportunities.

Her Campus had the chance to speak to Rasika about Michigan Business Women this week:

 

Her Campus: How has your membership in Michigan Business Women evolved? 

Rasika Karnik: Well, as I became more comfortable with my membership in Michigan Business Women, I became more involved in not just professional events, but also social ones—like froyo socials at Amer’s and ice-skating at Yost. It has been really nice to have this community because it offers so much female empowerment, something I’ve found especially important during my time at Ross.

 

HC: What’s the best thing you’ve done through Michigan Business Women?

RK: Unfortunately, I had class at this time, but the E-board and the other club members went to Ann Arbor Pioneer High School and talked to female students about business and getting involved in business. They encouraged women to apply to business school, and it was a great opportunity to offer mentorship to younger students. Since business is still so male-dominated, more women need to be encouraged to apply; they need to be shown that there is a place for them in business and that yes, there is a place where their voices can be heard.

 

HC: What's it like to be a woman in a predominantly male school?

RK: Normally it’s not a huge deal. But, there were two distinct times when I really felt my gender come up. The business school itself is a competitive environment—no matter your gender. But, sophomore year I was in a group with three or four guys, and I just felt that they did not think I was as intelligent as them. They continuously looked over my work and assigned me small tasks. As a control freak, I generally do the final look over. It was strange for me to feel that I was not trusted with important tasks, and it was weird to have them second-guessing my work.

Another instance where I felt my gender come up was last semester. There was a big strategy project I had to do. We had to do final presentations in class, and the best presentation from each class was picked to present. My group of six girls pitched an investment in a beauty and cosmetics company. People were not as supportive as we hoped, and even though we did win, there were people who thought we won because the male judges did not know enough about the cosmetics industry, and so they weren’t able to ask us difficult questions.

Overall, I've found that Ross does a great job of empowering and encouraging women. Our Dean and Associate Dean are both female. The sexist behavior that does exist, though, is manifested subtly in students, and I believe it's a result of the background we come from where we do not see many women in powerful positions. There is a stigma that women go to college to find a husband and that their career prospects end when they get married. I don't understand how people still think that, but I’m thankful that the school is so active in helping women get involved.

 

HC: How do you think we can deal with the barriers women face professionally and academically?

RK: I think we have to attack it from both ends. We need to stop where we are now and recognize that the ways in which women are treated in business and in other fields is not acceptable. It is not okay that, overall, women are not paid the same or are not looked at for management positions. We also need to start at a young age and look at how we educate our youth. Young girls need to know they're on equal playing ground as the boys in their class. Just because boys want to be firemen and policemen, doesn't mean girls can't. There is no such thing as a “boy’s job” and a “girl’s job.” Starting at a young age, we need to shut down the idea that there are specific roles for women and specific roles for men.

 

HC: I think that’s a great place to start too. As a seasoned (almost) graduate, what advice do you have for the rest of us?

RK: One of the things I was really excited about when starting at Michigan was the balance of a strong academic atmosphere and a social atmosphere. But, even though the University itself has that balance, you need to work on your own to find the balance within yourself to have the most complete college experience. When you do find that balance, you'll make your experience even better because you'll learn so much more with the amazing professors we have. Sometimes we think we need to learn, so we can just get a job. We forget it’s important to be an educated society. Finding this balance also means you'll make fantastic friends that will hopefully be in your life for years to come.

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