Women in Business Club Fosters Mentorship, Inclusion, and Sense of Belonging
The Women in Business Club is one of the University’s newest recognized student organizations, and it is already offering students important educational and networking opportunities, regardless of their major or gender identity.
March 24, 2021
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Jocelyn Rodrigues ’21 MBA is looking forward to graduating from the University of New Haven this spring with her third master’s degree. She has previously worked around the world – including in London, Abu Dhabi, and Bangalore – and her experience taught her the importance of mentorship, diversity, and inclusion.
During her first semester as a Charger, Rodrigues was invited to be part of a new initiative to establish a strong support system for women in the University’s Pompea College of Business. This resonated with Rodrigues, who was excited about the opportunity to share her experiences, support gender parity, and foster diversity, equity, and inclusion. That initiative became the University’s new Women in Business Club, of which she is now president.
“As someone who strongly believes in continued professional development and who has seen a lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in some workplaces around the world and in society, I wanted to help form an organization that would empower our students, women, and minorities,” she said. “It was important for me to help create networking opportunities for students to succeed after graduation.”
'Serves as a safe place to learn, grow, and network'
Created as part of the Pompea College of Business’s focus on fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion, and a sense of belonging, the Women in Business Club is open to all students, regardless of their gender identity. A registered student organization, the club already has more than 70 active members, including students of diverse majors and backgrounds.
The Women in Business Club has hosted events for the University community, including “Women SOARing in the Modern World” earlier this month. As part of the virtual panel discussion, five successful and inspirational women shared how they have fostered change personally and professionally.
Olivia Jimenez ’23, the club’s vice president of mentorship and collaborations, says that serving as a member of its executive board has been an exciting opportunity that has enabled her to make a meaningful impact on the University community.
Finley Chapman ’22 is helping to organize the University’s inaugural Lavender Ceremony, which will honor graduating LGBTQ+ students this spring. A member of the Accessibility Resource Center Task Force he is dedicated to ensuring that the campus is accessible to all Chargers.
“I believe the Women in Business Club is important to have at the University because the field of business has historically been a predominately male-dominated industry,” said Jimenez, an international business management major. “This club creates an environment that fosters understanding of the business world from a female perspective. I hope it serves as a safe place to learn, grow, and network with other women.”
‘Boosting our students’ self-confidence and courage’
Being a part of the club has enabled Rodrigues, Jimenez, and their fellow members to interact with and learn from such professors as Candice Deal, Ph.D., assistant dean of the Pompea College of Business; Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D., associate professor of sport management; Mona Mehrabi, adviser of the University’s graduate business programs; and Khadija Al Arkoubi, Ph.D., an associate professor of management. Their collaboration has made the club possible.
“My colleagues and I hope to empower our women to face gender disparities, expand their networking with professionals and business leaders, and develop the necessary skills to be the leaders of tomorrow,” said Dr. Al Arkoubi. “We are convinced that boosting our students’ self-confidence and courage will enable them to break the glass ceiling and overcome gender inequity. This group of established women faculty has been inspiring to our club members.”
The club endeavors to foster the best environment for students to grow, learn, and thrive while supporting them as they embark on and progress in their careers. It has organized events that include everything from a pitch competition to panel discussions.
Alex Flores ’22 MPA, who serves as assistant treasurer of the club, says it has offered students an incredible opportunity for personal and professional development.
“I believe it is not only necessary, but incredibly beneficial, to have a place where everyone, no matter your gender or agender identity, can discuss the challenges that individuals face within the workplace,” Flores said. “I hope the events and panels we have planned bring forth the ability to engage and the courage to bring it into the workforce, no matter what roles we end up in.”
‘It offers students a platform’
Open to all students, regardless of their gender identity, the Women in Business Club aims to foster diversity, inclusion, and education, as well as an environment in which members can feel comfortable connecting, engaging in discussion, and learning from each other.
Emily Watkins ’24, a finance major, is treasurer of the club. She is grateful for the opportunities she’s already had as a member of the club, and she hopes it will inspire her classmates as they prepare to embark on their careers.
“It offers students a platform to talk about how to break through the arbitrary limits in society and soar in today’s business environment,” she said. “It provides networking opportunities and an open forum for support and inclusion during a time when diversity is a prominent issue worldwide. I hope it encourages students to know that they can do anything if they work together."
For Kiana White ’24, serving as the club’s secretary has been an invaluable learning experience. She is building important skills and helping to create a lasting legacy at the University.
“I consider my responsibilities as secretary to be of great importance,” said White, a business management major. “I want to leave a long-term structure for the Women in Business Club as a whole and for the next e-board member who will assume my role. I hope to gain more knowledge and build personal connections with my fellow e-board members, club members, and special guests. Not only do I represent the Women in Business Club, but I also represent the students who are eager to bring forth change.”
‘We want this club to empower students’
For Tanu Sharma ’22 MBA, being a part of the club is personal. Having worked as a journalist and television news producer in India, she has addressed issues such as women’s health and safety, gender bias, and literacy. She also created an international documentary focused on the gender pay gap, which highlighted inspirational women in the entertainment industry who have encouraged and mentored other women.
“I am extremely delighted to be a part of the Women in Business Club,” said Sharma, the club’s vice president of operations and communications. “It shares the vision I have had since I started my work in India, and it gives me an opportunity to support, promote, empower, and recognize women in business. My mission is to empower women regardless of race, religion, age, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability.”
Rodrigues, the club’s president, hopes it will continue to grow and be a lasting source of support and encouragement for all students at the University.
“The Women in Business Club hopes to provide a platform for students to discuss issues regarding gender and equality without the fear of judgement,” said Rodrigues, who has accepted a full-time position with RB, a multinational consumer goods company. “I really hope we can help create a one-on-one mentorship program in which students who are seeking help can receive guidance from a mentor in their field of study.
“We want this club to empower students, enable them to discover their goals, and unlock their potential,” she continued. “We hope it will provide them with the resources and skills they will need to navigate the workforce and achieve their goals, and to have a positive influence on their communities and on our society.”