By Karen Guzman
Itâ€™s Club Kick-Off Week at the Yale School of Management, and more than 100 students have crowded into an Evans Hall classroom on a warm September afternoon to learn more about the schoolâ€™s fast-growing Women in Management Club (WIM).
Club co-presidents Christine Liaw â€™20 and Temi Ashiru â€™20 donâ€™t waste time getting down to business. â€œWIM is about your journey at SOM, every stage of it, from students to alumni,â€� Ashiru says. â€œWeâ€™re a social and professional support network for all SOM womenâ€”thatâ€™s the most important thing.â€�
Yale SOM boasts dozens of student clubs, some devoted to professional interests, others to affinity groups or specials interests. The Women in Management Club cuts across categories, drawing a wide variety of studentsâ€”of all gender identitiesâ€”united by the common cause of creating equal career opportunities for all, organizers say.
This year, WIM has more than 10 officers heading up committees on topics ranging from alumni relations and professional development to admissions and inclusion. Club leaders are hoping to link some of their programming with the university-wide Celebrating Women at Yale initiative, marking the 50th anniversary of co-education at Yale College and the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Yaleâ€™s first women graduate students.
â€œWIM is a huge monster,â€� Ashiru says. â€œItâ€™s overarching and impactful, and a great opportunity for women to connect and branch out.â€� Both Ashiru and Liaw got involved last year. Their immediate goal was fostering greater inclusion and building allies. They launched the clubâ€™s Equity and Inclusion Committee.
â€œIn order for any progress or change to be made, we need people who are already in powerâ€”and the majority are menâ€”to mentor women and to bring them up,â€� Liaw says. â€œWe need to open up the conversation. A lot of men want to be involved, but donâ€™t know how to help.â€�
Three new efforts got that conversation going last year. The first was a WIM-sponsored screening of the recent documentary film on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. â€œIt was really educational for the men and women alike,â€� says Liaw.
Next came a new WIM spin on Yale SOMâ€™s Voices, the weekly open-microphone gathering that lets community members share who they are. WIM took the template and launched Womenâ€™s Voices, putting the spotlight on women.
A new gathering called Fishbowl followed, a response to the debate sparked last April when Professor Mushfiq Mobarakâ€™s State and Society course looked at gender disparities in the labor market. At this event, women sat in an inner circle with men seated in a circle around them.
â€œThe women got to talk first, for 20 minutes, and then the men responded,â€� Liaw says of the Fishbowl format. â€œThere was no interrupting allowed. It gave women the chance to express themselves and be heard.â€�
This strategy of bringing people together to talk and hear each other permeates WIMâ€™s programming. The clubâ€™s annual marquee conference, Fempire, explores pressing issues impacting womenâ€™s lives. This yearâ€™s conference, scheduled for March 28, 2020, will examine how women can get involved in politics. The Business and Politics Club is co-sponsoring the event.
â€œWeâ€™ll be looking at the intersection of business and politics and women in that space,â€� Ashiru says. â€œSo many Yale alums have been involved in politics, and weâ€™ll bring some back to campus to share what theyâ€™ve learned.â€�
Katrina Ong â€™21 plans to attend multiple events this year. â€œI joined WIM to connect with a unique network of women and allies who would support me throughout my time at Yale and beyond,â€� she says. â€œThe scope of the clubâ€™s events speaks to its reach.â€�
That reach includes career development programming and admissions outreach to help bring qualified women students to Yale SOM. Katherine Danielson â€™21 credits WIM for guiding her through the admissions process, and this year she will be a first-year leader on the clubâ€™s Alumni Relations and Professional Development Committee.
â€œWIM is important for recruiting high-performing young women,â€� Danielson says. â€œWIM makes a big difference on the campus and hosts extra-curricular workshops and events that contributes to all students’ experiences across campus. Iâ€™m passionate now about connecting our students with alumnae to establish and create stronger mentoring relationships.â€�
This sense of ongoing, tangible community is really at the heart of WIMâ€™s mission. â€œOur job is making sure that your time here is the best time possible,â€� Ashiru says. â€œAnd that doesnâ€™t end when you leave Yale. Our alumni are everywhere. Weâ€™re here to help you go where you want to go.â€�