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Alumnae, Board Members Discuss Successful Careers

March 18, 2011 - by Abby Honaker

In honor of National Women’s History Month, a panel discussion featuring accomplished University of Mount Union alumnae was held on campus. The discussion topic focused on how their journeys have led them on paths to successful careers holding powerful leadership positions in the corporate world. 
 
Panelists included Nancy Hill ’79, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), Sandra (Goff ’74) Thomas, retired senior vice president of JP Morgan Chase and Lee Ann (Johnston ’83) Thorn, executive director of Atrium OB/GYN, Inc. Aside from being graduates of the institution, the panelists are also members of the Mount Union Board of Trustees.  
 
Dr. Jamie Capuzza, professor of communication and director of Mount Union’s Gender Studies Program, indicated in her welcoming remarks that for every dollar a man earns in the work place, a woman earns 83 cents. Capuzza reiterated to the audience that women’s rights have come along way throughout the years, but there is still far more work that lies ahead.
 
Following the panelists introductions, each woman shared stories of times they faced challenges because of their gender, instances in which being a woman was beneficial for their career and what makes them hopeful for women in the future. 
 
Thomas told an eye-opening story about a time when she stood up for herself as a professional and as a workingwoman after finding out that a male colleague of hers was making twice her salary. Listen to her personal story.
 
When discussing salary inequality specifically with regards to individuals who have families to support and others who do not, Thorn chimed in by saying that “there is still this idea that this person should be paid more because they have a family to support and this person doesn’t, which is completely inappropriate. But it is still a conversation that happens, and it’s still a rationale as unlikely as it seems.”
 
Hill feels that although men and women might be paid the same salary with an organization, there are still subtle inequalities that occur. Listen to her personal story.
 
A large part of the panel discussion focused on balancing work and life, and how it’s not just a gender challenge but a society challenge in general. Thorn shared with the audience that it took her nearly 20 years to finally figure out how to balance the two. Listen to her personal story.
 
All of the panelists are optimistic about what the next generation of women will bring to the business world because they have the ability and encouragement to speak their minds.
 
“Knowing that conversations like the one we are having tonight are happening more frequently is what I find encouraging,” said Hill.  “These talks weren’t happening before so the fact that they are is a large improvement in itself.”
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