Women's Leadership Symposium Empowers Participants

Tickets were sold out for the Women's Leadership Symposium on Oct. 10 at the Wang Center, co-sponsored by the Division of Information Technology.

By: William Welch
Last Updated: March 22, 2017

By Will Welch '16

At 300 participants, tickets were sold out for the Stony Brook Women’s Leadership Symposium on Oct. 10 at the Wang Center.

The day-long conference was the first of its kind at Stony Brook, focusing on helping women get ahead in the workplace.  Patricia Aceves, director of the Faculty Center and organizer of the symposium, said the event answered a demand for training resources at Stony Brook. “There needed to be more professional development for women on campus,” Aceves said.

Speakers covered topics ranging from personal branding to work-life balance under the slogan, “developing the power to succeed.” Barnard College President, Dr. Debora Spar, gave the keynote address, exploring topics from her most recent book, Wonder Women: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection. Spar said that women need to prioritize what they try to accomplish in the workplace and at home, rather than try to do it all.

Barnard College President Debora Spar, Event Organizer Patricia Aceves and Chief Information Officer Cole Camplese pose together at the Women's Leadership Symposium on Oct. 10 at the Wang Center. "We, as women, actually ratcheted up the expectations we put on ourselves and others,” Spar said. Her presentation went through her book chapter by chapter, dispelling the idea that women need to do more and try harder to be successful. Instead, Spar believes women need to work together with men to change society’s expectations of professional women.

Though she wasn’t able to attend in person, State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher spoke at the event via a pre-recorded message. Zimpher encouraged women to lead by uniting people with a common vision, focusing on values and communicating with stakeholders. Additional speakers later in the day and breakout sessions focused on networking and personal branding, especially through social media sites such as LinkedIn.

Aceves organized the symposium as part of Project FORWARD, or Focus on Resources for Women’s Advancement, Retention and Development, which she started with the help of a presidential mini-grant for departmental diversity. Part of the funding for the symposium came from the mini-grant and the rest was supported by the Division of Information Technology. “Diversity is a key strategic initiative at Stony Brook, and this is one piece of how we are fulfilling that,” Aceves said.

Project FORWARD also supports small “leadership circle” peer support groups and the Stony Brook Women’s Leadership Network, which provides leadership resources to campus women through its website, http://you.stonybrook.edu/forward/.

Aceves said she hoped women walked away from the event feeling empowered. “They have the ability to take charge of their own professional development,“ Aceves said.  “And there are people on campus who can help to support their leadership development.”

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Patricia Aceves