Arkansas State University’s Small Business and Technology Development Center hosted AccelHERate, a virtual event where a panel of women gave advice and the lessons they’ve learned to be successful in a leading company. They gave their thoughts on management and growth strategies, commercialization opportunities, startup mistakes and avoiding them and skills for success. The seminar was hosted on March 8, which was International Women’s Day.
The panel consisted of four speakers: Tiffny Calloway, the director of operations for Delta Population Health Institute, April Roy, the CEO of femPAQ, Dr. Hilary Schloemer, assistant professor of Management at A-State and Luna Acosta, the incubator director and director of IP and marketing catalyst, Research and Technology Transfer at A-State.
The panelists discussed the challenges they face that are unique to women, such as proving one’s worth in a male-dominated field, raising concern about women’s issues and having to tone down one’s personality and accomplishments so as to not upset men in the room.
“(Women have) been in those spaces where (they think), ‘let me let me turn down my smartphones, or let me not be so strong and powerful. Or let me choose my words carefully so that you know that you don’t feel intimidated by my vocabulary,’” said Candance Brooks, the host of the seminar.
The seminar placed an emphasis on mentorship and finding the proper mentors. The panelists stated having a variety of mentors helped them to find guidance and to keep their priorities in check. Calloway said her mentors have assisted her in growing her connections and to remind her to put her family first.
Others, like Schloemer, draw not from specific people but rather from a broad community of people with different spheres of expertise. Roy said her mentors were all women and she often uses them to vent.
“Find someone in the same career field you’re looking at going to (who has) those failures already figured out, so maybe you’ll be less likely to make those same mistakes. Also, it’s always good to have someone who can hold you accountable, personally and professionally,” Calloway said.
The panelists also stated that in addition to speaking out, working women should also be able to listen. Calloway said that listening allows women to be honest and open amongst themselves and that is what allows them to speak out about their struggles and make real change in society.
Brooks also led a discussion of what men can do to help push for women’s issues. The panelists agreed that the most important things men can do is to speak up when they see injustice. Scholemer said that for men, all the doors for opportunities open for them.
“The least (they) can do is shove (their) foot in that door and usher in the people behind (them) who the door doesn’t open for,” Schloemer said.
The seminar concluded with the panelists leaving some last minute advice, such as reminding women to make a statement when they want to see change, to make mistakes and learn from them and to lean on mentors.
“Well behaved women rarely make history. I know that all the ruckus I cause is all for a reason. So (continue) to make noise out there,” Calloway said.
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