Lead­ing women dis­cuss chal­lenges they face to­day

Work­place in­equal­ity, sex­ism top­ics of panel

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

Re­cently, the na­tion watched as White House Press Sec­re­tary Sean Spicer told Ur­ban Ra­dio Net­works White House correspondent April Ryan to stop “shak­ing her head” dur­ing a tele­vised press brief­ing, and sud­denly a re­al­ity check about how women are treated in the work­force went global. In ret­ro­spect, it ex­posed an age-old is­sue in so­ci­ety that lead­ing women ex­pe­ri­ence.

On March 30, Bill Buff­in­g­ton, founder and pres­i­dent of V Con­nec­tions Inc., and the In­sti­tu­tional Eq­uity and Di­ver­sity Of­fice of the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land held a panel dis­cus­sion with eight women who are con­sid­ered lead­ers in the South­ern Mary­land com­mu­nity. The panel dis­cus­sion raised aware­ness about the so­ci­etal and eco­nomic chal­lenges that women face on a daily ba­sis.

“Af­ter the Women’s

March on Wash­ing­ton I thought it was im­por­tant to bring some­thing sim­i­lar to CSM for our stu­dent body and fac­ulty,” Buff­in­g­ton said. “We have a fo­cus on bring­ing aware­ness to women’s is­sues. We found that through­out Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s coun­ties we’re not hear­ing their voices. We need to open our ears and hear what our women have to say. All women, even women vet­er­ans serve and sac­ri­fice for the na­tion.”

The mod­er­a­tor, Genevra Wil­liams, pres­i­dent of the CSM La Plata Cam­pus Stu­dent As­so­ci­a­tion, had each woman share her per­spec­tive on top­ics such as bet­ter jobs, equal pay and fair wages, lead­er­ship roles and im­proved work­place prac­tices.

“I can’t tell you how much it up­sets me as an Amer­i­can to see the power we have to lead but yet in this coun­try women make $.70 to the $1 for do­ing the same job as a man,” said Laura Orn­dorff, a La Plata na­tive and U.S. Army vet­eran. “I wore my uni­form to cor­rect that. I stand for us to do bet­ter as a na­tion when it comes to equal­iz­ing pay so that ev­ery­one gets it across the globe, male or fe­male.”

“I was al­ways taught by my fam­ily to do what you love and you’ll make enough money. But I think it’s im­por­tant that more op­por­tu­ni­ties open for women, es­pe­cially in STEM,” said Daphne Morris, CSM divi­sion chair for dis­tance learn­ing and fac­ulty devel­op­ment.

Robin Caval­laro, a U.S. Navy vet­eran and as­so­ciate bro­ker with Re/Max, said women need to know their own value and worth in the work­force.

“If some­one is try­ing to short change you then don’t ac­cept it, but do it in a po­lite, pro­fes­sional and re­spect­ful way,” Caval­laro said. “My first 16 years as a de­fense con­trac­tor did not start off well. I was 22 years old and the men at my job made in­ap­pro­pri­ate comments and whis­tled at me, but I stood up for my­self and they never messed with me again. I also ac­cepted a salary that was lower than what I wanted and I got passed over for a bonus. In­stead of whin­ing about it, ev­ery chal­lenge that was handed to me I ac­cepted and I ex­celled. I got that bonus the fol­low­ing year.”

Jehnell Link­ins, aca­demic ad­vi­sor at CSM, said in re­gards to jobs, it’s all a mat­ter of teach­ing young women how to play the game.

“Sev­eral years ago my daugh­ter was the only fe­male in her physics class dur­ing un­der­grad. She called home cry­ing say­ing that her pro­fes­sor would not speak to her so I went to the col­lege the next day and found out it was true. Her pro­fes­sor had a male stu­dent in­ter­pret­ing to her be­cause the pro­fes­sor didn’t be­lieve women should be in a physics class. I had to have a strong con­ver­sa­tion with my daugh­ter about know­ing how to play the game. We need to teach them, help them find their niche and how to move ahead de­spite ob­sta­cles,” Link­ins said.

Glen­nis Daniels-Bac­chus, orig­i­nally from Guyana, South Amer­ica, and an ADA co­or­di­na­tor at CSM La Plata and Leonard­town cam­puses, said un­for­tu­nately women are not taught how to ne­go­ti­ate their wages. “It’s some­thing that we need to learn as we grow and as more of us get up the cor­po­rate lad­der we need to be able to sit at the ta­ble and say this is my worth and this is what I’m ask­ing for,” Daniels-Bac­chus said.

The panel agreed that it is also a strug­gle for women to “shat­ter the glass ceil­ing” in lead­er­ship roles of all lev­els in the work­force.

“I be­lieve women should be in com­bat,” said Barbara Ives, di­rec­tor of Strate­gic Part­ner­ships for CSM and a U.S. Navy vet­eran. “Women should get an op­por­tu­nity to fight for our coun­try and to also do the noble thing — ful­fill their du­ties and obli­ga­tions pro­moted in com­bat sit­u­a­tions.”

Lau­rie Can­gelosi, a U.S. Navy vet­eran and Ex­pe­di­tionary Med­i­cal Fa­cil­ity Bethesda com­mand master chief, said it is ex­tremely rare to see a woman ranked as master chief — so rare and high rank­ing that her col­leagues re­ferred to her as a “uni­corn.”

Athena Mik­los, a busi­ness pro­fes­sor at CSM, spe­cial­izes in ar­eas such as busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion, eco­nomic devel­op­ment and com­mu­nity re­vi­tal­iza­tion. She said she was “work­ing in a man’s world.”

Mik­los said her ef­forts to help break down bar­ri­ers for women in the field of busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion in­cluded be­ing the one pitch­ing cre­ative and in­no­va­tive ideas dur­ing meet­ings rather than be­ing the per­son des­ig­nated to take notes just be­cause she was the only woman in the room.

“It’s up to us to carve out the in­equal­ity and to cre­ate the equal­ity, to make our voice heard at the ta­ble,” Orn­dorff said.

Toni Kruszka, a CSM staff mem­ber, said one ob­sta­cle that women of color face is over­com­ing so­ci­ety’s stereo­types and bi­ases to be­come suc­cess­ful lead­ers. She asked, “How do we men­tor young women of color about how they can rid so­ci­ety of that?”

Link­ins said “it’s very dif­fi­cult be­cause I can’t change the color of my skin, but I can por­tray my­self as hav­ing worth and value ... we are not all an­gry black women.”

Daniels-Bac­chus said she re­mem­bers hav­ing to tell her daugh­ter at a young age that “she would be per­ceived in the work­force and in col­lege as not be­ing aca­dem­i­cally able and per­ceived as not be­ing ca­pa­ble of suc­cess.”

But Mik­los says there is hope.

“In the fu­ture you have hope and I see that ev­ery day in my class­room. When I go into my classes my stu­dents do not seem to be sep­a­rat­ing them­selves. They are much more in­te­grated as a group and don’t seem to look at dis­tinc­tions as much as older gen­er­a­tions have done so I think there is some hope,” Mik­los said.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

Above, on March 30, the In­sti­tu­tional Eq­uity and Di­ver­sity Of­fice of the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land and VCon­nec­tions Inc. in­vited a panel of women from the South­ern Mary­land com­mu­nity to its La Plata Cam­pus to dis­cuss so­ci­etal and eco­nomic chal­lenges that ex­ist on a daily ba­sis for women. Be­low, Laura Orn­dorff, a La Plata na­tive and U.S. Army vet­eran, Daphne Morris, CSM divi­sion chair for dis­tance learn­ing and fac­ulty devel­op­ment, Robin Caval­laro, a U.S. Navy vet­eran and as­so­ciate bro­ker with Re/Max, and Athena Mik­los, busi­ness pro­fes­sor at CSM, dis­cuss fair pay and equal wages dur­ing the panel dis­cus­sion at CSM La Plata cam­pus.

Dur­ing the panel dis­cus­sion on March 30, Laura Orn­dorff, a La Plata na­tive and U.S. Army vet­eran, said not hav­ing equal pay for equal work re­ally angers her.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

Glen­nis Daniels-Bac­chus, orig­i­nally from Guyana, South Amer­ica, and an ADA co­or­di­na­tor at CSM’s La Plata and Leonard­town cam­puses, dis­cussed hard­ships women face when ob­tain­ing lead­er­ship roles.

Daphne Morris, CSM divi­sion chair­woman for dis­tance learn­ing and fac­ulty devel­op­ment, dis­cussed a need for women to be able to have bet­ter job op­tions in STEM and trade in­dus­tries.

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