IWU welcomes Collegiate Women’s Network

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by Stephanie Vargas, News Editor

IWU Collegiate Women’s Network, a newly registered student organization (RSO) arrived at Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU) this year. Headed by two IWU seniors, Jenn Hart and Halley Shanley, the RSO aims to promote women in the workplace.

Being second semester seniors, Hart and Shanley were faced with the realities of life after college and the hardships that may arise. “The mission of the RSO is to empower the women of Illinois Wesleyan to develop and value their contributions as students now and as professionals later by creating an environment that allows women’s experiences and perspectives in the working world to be heard.”

The IWU Collegiate Women’s Network values inclusivity and network building. Sophomore Vi Kakares joined the RSO for those reasons exactly. “I definitely think an organization like this was needed on campus,” Kakares said. “It’s a great way to meet new people, but I also think this RSO will provide a support system by mentoring us on both personal and professional goals.”  

Despite having “Women” in the title, the RSO is all encompassing and inclusive. “Our main goal is to empower women, but of course we welcome men and recognize their value in our group,” Hart said. “While statistics and studies show that women are generally less confident/assertive than men in their abilities, we recognize that men face other struggles inflicted by social gender norms in the workplace of their own.”

In creating a strong network for students, the IWU Collegiate Women’s Network plans to host speakers and workshops over the next few months. “Each month, our organization focuses on one topic that we learn about over the course of two meetings: one student or faculty-lead workshop and one guest-speaker,” Hart said.

Some topics the co-founders hope to cover this semester include the employers’ perspective in the interview, negotiating salary/bonuses, networking, diversity, confidence building and working from home.

While hosting their events, the RSO puts an emphasis on the value of creating a supportive community environment. “Studies show that women tend to not apply for jobs/internships unless they meet 100% of the job requirements listed on the opening; whereas, men typically apply if they only meet 60%,” Hart said. “In my own experience, having friends to help push and encourage me throughout the application process made all the difference. We want our RSO to help be that type of support system.”

Recently, the IWU Collegiate Women’s Network supported the IWU Hart Career Center’s event on Tuesday. IWU alum Jayanne Calaway spoke on her professional success after IWU.

This blooming RSO is one for students of every demographic, and it will be an asset to anyone planning on entering the workforce. “Our hope is that our group creating a platform that highlights female speakers across different industries adds additional dimensions to IWU students’ exposure of what their future career could possibly look like one day,” Hart said. Keep an eye out for their upcoming events in February.