A Millennial's Opinion on 'Upsetting the Table'

Hi! I'm Cooper Killen, e51's new intern. Contact me here with any remarks or questions!

As a female millennial who just graduated with a BA in Economics & Women’s and Gender Studies, last night’s panel of Robbie Hardy (who presented her new book and will be attending the United State of Women next week), Margaret Rosenfeld, Amy Smith, and Margot Lester, was one of my first opportunities to see my education in real-world practice.  

These four women discussed their experiences as a woman in their respective fields of business, what it takes to get to the top as a woman, and how to disrupt the standing gender roles in business to be successful.

Although women are gaining traction in the “real-world,” I believe that same-sex spaces have value and merit.  I relish in the empowerment I feel from places such as my sorority and this internship. As Hardy said during the panel last night, ‘The Girls Club’ has the power to bond, empower, and allow women to ask and say things they couldn’t otherwise.

Shared experiences and female solidarity are crucial for women’s success.

While there is certainly some power in being the odd woman out in the office (which Hardy suggested she cherished at points), without women mentoring women, nobody will teach women how they should act in the board room or at office lunches.

As a millennial, my generation has the power to enact change differently than the women who paved the way before us. My hope for the future is to shift the conversation from making space at the men’s table to redefining the institution of business. Women must utilize their strengths in leadership (collaborative, gritty, driven by social good) rather than adhering to the already existing standards.

Here are some of my favorite nuggets of wisdom from the night.

  • You are a strong, capable woman. Don’t shrink into your space. Take up as much space as you want.

  • Yes, we stand out as women, but slowly and surely we are becoming more of the norm. Go ahead. Be bold. Own the room, step into it. You’re there for a reason.

  • You can’t upset the table from the second row. Take your seat at the table.

Purchase Hardy’s book here

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