With women still a minority on corporate boards and in upper management, second-year Wharton EMBA students Liz Armstrong and Emmelene Lee say it’s more important than ever for women in business to network and support each other as they progress through their careers. To facilitate those connections at Wharton, they recently organized a dinner for women students. We asked them to tell us more about that event and here is what they said:
Liz Armstrong (Toronto, ON): “At Wharton, our EMBA class is comprised of about 30% women. While we spend a lot of time together during class hours, we thought it would also be valuable to gather for a networking dinner. This was a unique opportunity to get to know each other better.
“We had almost 100% participation at the dinner, which was partially sponsored by the EMBA office. The casual, unstructured dinner was successful and provided an opportunity to establish and deepen connections.
“The value for women at these types of events is huge because studies have shown that women don’t always have the same access to networks. But success in the business world is about more than just working hard. Personal relationships are important as they provide insight, connections and diverse perspectives. I’m grateful that Wharton was supportive because the developing of networks is critically important.
“For new students coming into Wharton’s EMBA program, I’d advise them to make the most of their time here to reach out to other students – the caliber and diversity of our fellow classmates is incredible. Don’t underestimate the importance of this network because it will be invaluable after you graduate and it will be just as important as the technical skills you will develop.”
Emmelene Lee (New York, NY): “We really wanted to get to know all of the women in our class so we organized this networking event. It’s powerful to have a peer group of supportive women, especially since you see fewer women as you get more senior in the ranks.
“Many of us had recently read an article in The Atlantic about whether women can have it all and that was one of the topics of conversation at the dinner. We talked about work-life balance issues and how those will become even more important as we advance in our careers.
“We also focused on getting to know each other better beyond our usual study and commuting groups. To facilitate that, we split people up by cities so that they mingled with more people and asked everyone to share one thing that no one else in the group knew about them.
“I’ve received several emails from women saying it was a great evening and that they got to know many other students. The event went so well that we’ll definitely try to do it again.”