By Alyssa Weston
Youngstown State University held a panel of women in male-dominated fields who answered questions, gave advice on how to succeed similar work environments and shared stories on their professional experiences on March 29 in Kilcawley Center.
The panel was organized by Sherri Lovelace-Cameron, instructor in chemistry and Alicia Prieto-Langarica, instructor in mathematics and statistics as part in recognition of Women’s History Month.
The four women on the panel were Omadee Curry, Phyllis Paul, Trinette Simon and Carmella Marie Williams.
Curry is a technical sales agent and independent sales contractor. Simon is a senior manager at Cohen and Company.
Paul is the dean of the YSU College of Creative Arts and Communications and professor in the Dana School of Music. Williams is the owner of Carmella Marie, a natural hair care product line, and director of diversity and inclusion at the Youngstown Business Incubator.
Students in the audience encouraged the panelists to describe “mansplaining” and share their experiences.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, mansplaining is defined as what occurs when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he’s talking to does.
Simon said there have been occasions when she is out with clients and they assume the man with her was the boss. That was the case until she was the one who paid for lunch with the company credit card.
“In some of these professions, there’s these assumptions that the man is going to be in charge,” she said.
Curry said she was often the only female in the room when she began working.
“A lot of times you have to handle situations with a smile just so that it doesn’t come off as you being too sensitive,” she said.
The panel gave women in the audience advice on how to find their voice in a male-dominated field.
Williams said silence is power, just as much as trying to explain yourself.
Paul said it is important for women to find their own voice.
“What works for me may not work for someone else, but you have to find out who you are and you have to rest on who you are as a person and a scholar,” she said.
Simon said she doesn’t compete with the other people she works with.
“As long as you are confident in yourself, your ability to present yourself and what you know, you don’t have to be the show. People will recognize that,” she said.
Prieto Langarica said there is importance in female students working together in their studies.
The panel concluded with the women explaining the benefits of being a woman in their fields.
Curry said being a woman is beneficial because being unique makes a person memorable and stand out in some situations.
Paul said by asking more personal questions, it’s better for her to build relationships in a different way and she believes it is something some men could learn from women.
“I can’t walk into a guy’s office and do a fist bump and talk about Tampa Bay, even though I like football,” Paul said. “It’s just not who I am.”
Hallie Duarle, senior biology and chemistry double major, said she attended the panel because she feels that there will be sexism in her field of work after she graduates.
“This was a good opportunity to explore and see what advantages and disadvantages I would have as a woman. I am also a Muslim woman, so I am worried about being stereotyped not only for my gender, but also for my beliefs in the field,” she said.
Curry has a bachelor of science in math from Westminster, a master of economics and a master of science degree from YSU.
Paul has a doctorate in music from Florida State University.
Simon has a bachelor of science degree from YSU.
Williams has a master public administration degree from Cleveland State University and bachelor of applied science degree in business administration, marketing/marketing management and general studies at YSU.