As Women’s History month draws to a close, the John Brown University community took time to honor its leaders. Celebrating the advocacy of woman-to-woman relationships, the Women in the Workplace student organization at JBU hosted a panel with women who are pivotal leaders and professors in business.
The panel consisted of JBU professors Eva Fast, Linda Vytlacil and Wendy Togami, and it was provided deep and honest thoughts on seeking healthy and successful mentorship relationships in any area of life. The three professionals drew from their business and entrepreneurial acumen. For example, Vytlacil is the former Vice President for Data Science/Global Data & Analytics Platforms for Walmart Labs, and Fast has a wide variety of experiences in market research, demand planning and national trade shows.
They also have experience working with women specifically in different business or service-related areas. Togami, a marketing and leadership professor, is especially known as a member of the Nomi Network team, which works to fight human trafficking by empowering women and girls to break cycles of slavery in their lives.
The purpose of this meeting was to create a space where these professionals could share their perspectives on the importance of seeking mentorship in order to grow. The coordinator of this event, Ana Burgos, is a senior finance major and the current president of Women in the Workplace at JBU.
“Ana and I connected in 2019 when she found me after class time to learn more,” Fast said. “Ana had a specific idea in mind when she approached me to create a space for young women to learn and grow together in a space advocated by other professional women with more experience.”
This goal created the space to pursue what is now Women in the Workplace. The opportunity is not only for those pursuing business degrees, but for any major to partake in fellowship with other growing leaders.
Women have had a difficult time breaking into the world of big business due to a variety of societal barriers including sexism and gender disparity in job availability and pay. CNN reported in August 2020 that the number of women CEOs on the Fortune 500 list was 38, a record they say “underscores the slow pace of change at the highest levels of business.”
While opportunities still seem few and far between, women in business are historically doing better than ever before. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, there are a total of 12.3 million women-owned businesses in the US, rivalling the mere 402,000 from 1972. This means that four out of 10 businesses in the US are owned by women.