Society of Women in Business mentors women professionally, socially


Photo Courtesy of Angelica LaVito

Brittany Marsh, president of the Society of Women in Business, presents to prospective members at an info night Thursday, Jan. 26. The group aims to develop members’ professional and personal skills.

By Angelica LaVito, Staff Writer

Brittany Marsh, a sophomore in Business, joined the Society of Women in Business freshman year in search of new friends. She found those and much more.

Marsh, now president of the organization, gained a group of mentors to turn to for guidance to navigate her major and her job search. She learned tips about areas such as networking and public speaking through workshops.

“It’s not just professional things, it is how to be a sociable person who is open to new ideas and who has dealt with team activities,” she said. “Especially being president now, I have eight vice presidents I oversee, so I know how to work internally as well.”

The number of undergraduate men and women is almost equal in the College of Business. Men outnumber women in finance and information systems/information technology. Women outnumber men in accountancy, supply chain management, marketing and management. They also partake in business process management.

But the equality at the University does not necessarily match the industry. In 2016, only 4.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs were women, according to Fortune.

The Society of Women in Business is trying to help change that.

“(Women) are paid less than men and are in fewer positions of power,” said Riley Corboy, a sophomore in Business. “We’re helping women reach their full potential and bridge that gap.”

The organization was founded in 1998 at the University. Today, it has approximately 150 members. They participate in social events, service events, mentorship events and professional events.

Each semester, the organization invites recruiters from companies such as Medline and BMO Harris Bank to present a workshop. Members can practice their networking skills as they interact with recruiters on an informal level.

“It really helps you develop your skills professionally because, I don’t want to say it’s low stress, but it’s pretty low stakes in that interaction because they’re just there to answer your questions,” Marsh said. “You’re not all in suits. You don’t have your resume in front of you.”

Kelly Janssen, the College of Business’ director of admissions and recruitment, advises the organization. She hopes to mentor the members as her college recruiter and track coach mentored her when she was a freshman.

Janssen was majoring in creative writing and wasn’t sure how she wanted to apply it. Her recruiter worked with her to develop an internship within his office to use her skills. That opportunity helped her land her first job.

“It’s something that if he wouldn’t have been there, I don’t know what direction I would’ve went in,” Janssen said. “But it’s so nice when you do have someone who isn’t there to tell you what to do, but if you bring it to them and say, ‘this is where I am, this is what I’m looking for, or I don’t know what I’m looking for, but can you help me?’ They know how to ask the right questions so it’s more about you finding it out rather than me telling you what to do and giving you direction.”

Corboy noticed men in her classes participate more than the women. She thinks they may be more confident and assertive but believes the Society of Women in Business helps women feel the same.

“We’re building girls up to be more confident to speak up in the classroom,” she said.

At the group’s info night Thursday, 50 prospective new members listened to the executive board members share their events for the upcoming semester. Jiabao Li, a freshman in DGS, attended the meeting and planned to apply because the group seemed supportive.

“That’s why I really want to get involved with this place and get to know people,” she said. “Especially to develop professionally and socially, which is a really good opportunity for me to grow and pursue a business major.”

The organization may not revolutionize the business world today, but it’s preparing women to take the right steps to do so.

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