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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Female leaders discuss strategies for success

Texas A&M Women’s Organization for Motivation, Expression & Nurturing, or WOMEN, presented the “Women in Leadership” panel to share the advice and experiences of women in prominent positions.
The panel on April 5 featured Kristen Ely, facility nurse manager at Signature Care Emergency Center, Laura Dague, assistant professor of public service and administration at the Bush School, Lemar Brown, executive professor at Mays Business School and Katherine Meckel, assistant professor of economics. The panel discussed the women’s experiences in their respective jobs, the challenges they faced and steps women can take to promote leadership.
Chemical engineering graduate student and president of WOMEN Prerna Jain said this highly interactive event gave women an opportunity to discuss leadership skills with successful women from various fields.
“This panel discussion forum offered participants a platform to learn from the experiences of women who have achieved their goals,” Jain said.  “They shared their personal views and how to develop a direction for women in leadership positions.”
The panel began with a discussion on gender differences in opportunities and professional networking.  
“Sometimes doors aren’t opening for a reason, so maybe we are meant to be somewhere else,” Ely said.  “I transitioned into forensic nursing and decided to be a voice for those who don’t have a voice after I saw my male co-workers advancing faster through the ranks than females with the same education.  I realized that job is not where I needed to be.”
Brown had a slightly different view on this matter based on her own experiences.  As an African American mechanical engineer, she started work in the 1980s when few people in that profession looked like her.  
“My parents raised me to believe that the world wasn’t fair,” Brown said.  “You just have to push through and remember that you have to be professional no matter what.”
Various pressures faced by women in their personal and professional lives were also a topic of discussion. Dague said that while dressing or looking a specific way may come with the territory, the goal at work should be for people to recognize how good you are at your job.
“Don’t be the office party planner or baker or coffee maker, unless that’s your job of course,” Dague said.  “You want your work to be how people recognize you, not how well you can use the copier.” 
Ely said the judgments and expectations of other have always been a factor, but that she has worked to rise above them. 
“I was a teen mom and my family didn’t have much money growing up, but I decided that I did not want to be another statistic.  I became the first person in my family to go to college,” Ely said. “People see my tattoos and automatically stigmatize me, but you can’t let that happen.  Don’t allow people to stereotype you.”
The panel adjourned with advice for young women pursuing careers and aspiring to be leaders, especially in predominantly-male fields.    
“It is useful to have good mentors and you can build that relationship by asking people for help,” Dague said.  “Asking someone for help is an effective way to get people interested in you and your story.”
Lemar said the thing that has helped her succeed the most is staying focused and goal-oriented.
“After I receive feedback, I just write everything down,” Brown said. “Then, I make a plan where I write goals that help my personal and professional development.”
According to Meckel, having clear goals and working diligently toward them is a key strategy for success in leadership.
“I would say go big or go home and know what you want,” Meckel said.  “For certain things I thought to myself ‘Wow, I can never be able to do that,’ but I pushed myself and I’m glad I did.”

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