Gender equality panel discusses shattering the ‘glass ceiling’


Photos and Story by Desiree Masencup / Contributing Writer 

The Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority and June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students hosted ‘Scaling the Glass Ceiling,” a panel discussion addressing gender equality, on Thursday.

The panel was comprised of Heather Adams, CEO of Choice Media and Entertainment; Dia Cirillo, president of the American Association of University Women; Ashley Dumat, an attorney; and Barbara Scales, the director of the June Anderson Center.

Scales began the discussion with a presentation on how to navigate through the “glass ceiling,” a term used to describe the unacknowledged barriers women and minorities face in male-dominated fields, which highlighted the importance of knowing your value during salary negotiation and having a strategy.

“The reason we, as women, feel like we can’t negotiate our salaries at a higher rate is because we have that silencing self-doubt. You have to crash that self-doubt. You have to shatter it,” Scales said. “You have to be a champion for yourself.”

Dumat continued the presentation, offering advice to students on how to professionally handle inequality in the workplace. She referenced being called ‘That lawyer lady” by a Nashville judge in open court and told students she corrected him in open court just the same. Dumat told students that they should always demand respect in the workplace and not to feel bad doing so.

“There have been times where there were four lawyers on a case, and I was the only woman. I had to physically insert myself into the ‘boys club,’ so to speak, and I had to remind them that I was assigned to the case, too” Dumat said.

Adams finished the presentation and discussed the importance of nurturing your personal brand and knowing how to effectively communicate.

“One thing I will encourage you to do is to take the conversation beyond text messaging and email if you need to talk about something that’s challenging to address, because you can never judge someone’s tone in these situations,” Adams said. “Even if you use 10 emojis, someone will always take you the wrong way and misunderstand your intentions.”

As the discussion came to a close, panelists thanked those in attendance and encouraged women to empower one another.

“Women are always in competition with one another, trying to take each other out. It shouldn’t be that way,” Adams said, “We should be each other’s allies.”

To contact News Editor Angele Latham, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com.

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