Organization seeks to empower women

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Caryn Brown

By Rylee Seavers | Staff Writer

The National Association of Female Executives is a national organization that seeks to empower women to achieve success in their careers and personal lives, according to its website. Communication manager of the Waco chapter Caryn Brown said workplace equality has not been achieved in the United States, and there is still progress to be made.

The National Association of Female Executives provides opportunities for women to network, share experiences and hear from speakers at monthly meetings, Brown said. Brown also said female executives have a different set of issues in the workplace than men in the same positions.

Brown owns her own IT company and has to deal with the struggles of doing business in a male-dominated industry.

“I face a lot of questions about my qualifications because I am a woman,” Brown said.

In addition, Brown said most people would rather hire a man for IT-related services, so she gets extra credentials to help prove her experience and knowledge.

“I think it’s important when you take into consideration that [nearly] half of the workforce makes up such a small percentage of management positions and executive positions,” Brown said.

A recent Pew Research report found that women make up 46.8 percent of the workforce in the United States, and there are approximately 10.3 million more men in the U.S workforce than women. In the first quarter of 2017, another Pew Research study reported that only 5.4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and only 20.2 percent of Fortune 500 board members are women.

Part of the issue, Brown said, is that women are not asking for the positions that they want, and more women need to feel empowered to do so. Joining groups like the National Association of Female Executives and other organizations for working women can help, Brown said.

Brown also said it is important for women who are aspiring to enter the business world to find a mentor or a group of other women to guide them.

“It’s just such a hard thing to navigate, and even if they are nowhere near the same industry you are, just somebody else that you can lean on,” Brown said.

Brown encouraged female Baylor students to attend a meeting and reach out to a member for advice and guidance on entering the business world. The Waco chapter meets on the third Thursday of every month at Rosati’s Pizza in Hewitt.

Heaven Epperson is a board member of the Waco National Association of Female Executives chapter. Epperson said women in business empower and help each other, where men sometimes see the women in their field as a threat or as competition. She used to struggle with public speaking but said that the National Association of Female Executives gave her opportunities to improve her skills. Hearing feedback and learning from other women has been a major benefit of the organization, Epperson said.

“I get to tap into some resources that I wouldn’t ordinarily had I not been a part of [the National Association of Female Executives],” Epperson said.

Epperson said female students that want to go into business should never give up and remember that “failure is sometimes your greatest success.”