The business world has often been described as a ‘boys club.’ This mentality can extend to business education, as well. Goodman School of Business and the Goodman Business Students’ Association (BSA) have taken steps to create a space to discuss these gendered issues on campus.
Sorcha Killian, a fourth year student in the Bachelor of Business Administration Co-op International Dual Degree program and Vice President of Corporate Relations for the BSA, has had years of experience navigating a business education as a woman. Particularly through her BSA role, she has taken note of women participating in the BSA less actively than men.
“I recognized it can be hard for someone to join an organization where they don’t feel represented, which is why I felt it was my duty to provide a place which would ensure there was always a woman at the table,” said Killian.
To address this, Killian organized Goodman Women in Business. With support from both Goodman School of Business and the BSA, this new organization is already gaining its footing.
The mission of the organization is to create a dedicated space on campus for discussion about gender and the business world.
“This organization is dedicated to encouraging and promoting the efforts and achievements of women [at] Brock University,” said Killian. “It is a positive space where people can have open honest discussions about how someone who identifies as a woman can face certain hurdles in the business world that others don’t.”
Killian stresses the importance of having diversity within the group.
“The organization is dedicated to providing a safe space for both women and men to educate ourselves on how to promote equality and tolerance to everyone. This organization is not solely open to women or just to business students but open to all genders and faculties,” said Killian. “Creating equality is not a one-woman job. It is the role of everyone to create a safe, positive environment.”
The business environment has not always been equal to Killian, who has experienced gendered discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
“I have experienced a lot of gender-related issues working in organizations. Working primarily in finance, I have always worked in a typical ‘boys club’ and have received numerous comments on my physical appearance which, frankly, had nothing to do with my job,” said Killian. “From being physically harassed to being passed over for certain roles because I didn’t ‘suit the typical employee profile.’”
For Killian, the boundaries she has faced have been both external and internalized.
“I’ve personally struggled with appearing aggressive or nagging when I assert myself because society has told me to sit down and shush,” said Killian. “Learning to push past the stereotypes and internal voices of who I should be is an ongoing issue for me, which is why it’s so important to me to create something to counteract that.”
The newly founded organization is recruiting an executive team to strive towards addressing these barriers. The Goodman Women in Business social media accounts have shared links to the applications, seeking individuals wanting to run events. Students wanting to participate in other ways can also find more details about meetings, events and initiatives as they are announced via social media.
Killian calls on all students to become involved with the organization, whether they have been personally impacted by gendered issues in business or not.
“Simply because you may not have experienced it does not mean there aren’t issues,” said Killian. “And just because things aren’t terrible doesn’t mean they are wonderful. There is no reason anyone shouldn’t be involved in this mission. Equality is a human issue, not a gendered one. “
Goodman Women in Business will provide information as it is announced via social media handle @GoodmanWIB