My sister pointed out to me at one point in my career that I had never had a female mentor. It was a jarring realization because I felt like I had always worked with an equal amount of men and women. Looking more closely I realized my peers were women, but my mentors and leaders were predominantly male.
Ever since she mentioned that to me, I have been more aware of the representation of women in the spaces I’m in. Which is how I was struck on my first day at Booth when I heard the staggering statistic: only 38% of our class is women.
Unfortunately, this is not a problem isolated to Booth. According to TIME, in 2020 39% of students in full-time MBA programs at the 56 member schools of the Forté Foundation identified as female. That number has increased to 41% after a year in which the pandemic forced hundreds of thousands of women out of the labor force.
Soon into my MBA I recognized I was surrounded by some of the most dynamic and ambitious women in the world. I’ve always strongly believed you are a reflection of the company you keep, and I was so proud to be a part of this tribe—I quickly knew I wanted to be a part of highlighting the strength of our community. Becoming a member of Chicago Women in Business (CWiB) gave me the opportunity to expand my network and collaborate with these inspiring women in a way I’m not sure I would have been able to do alone.
As I near the end of my time at Booth, I have been reflecting on what the experience has meant to me and what I’m most proud of. I can confidently say being a co-chair of CWiB has been one of the most fulfilling and inspiring things I have done with my time here.
I have seen the women at Booth build each other up in ways that only powerful women can. We volunteer our time to plan campus tours, run monthly social events for a small group of peers, and coordinate a clothing drive for an organization that provides housing, integrated services, education and advocacy to end domestic violence. The community listens to each other and actively works to create a safe space for its members.
CWiB is something I would choose time and time again. It has taught me so much about being a leader and building up your team. It has taught me how to work with your peers (shoutout to my amazing co-chairs) and lean on each other to get the best job done.
Most importantly, CWiB has taught me that when women come together and lean on each other, you’re able to uncover a whole new level of potential in yourself. I know now that the presence of a female mentor in my career is seminal in becoming the leader I want to be. I will forever cherish these incredible women I have met during my time at Booth and can’t thank them enough for the inspiration they have provided me.
There is still so much work to do, but when I look at that 38% of my class I see an unstoppable force that will not let gender bias get in the way. The future is female and you will be seeing these women, myself included, run the world very soon.