by Colton Campbell

Women from across the West Georgia region came together last Friday to support and learn from each other at the fifth annual Women Empowering Women event.

Dr. N. Jane McCandless
Dr. N. Jane McCandless

The event, hosted by the University of West Georgia’s Richards College of Business, was sponsored by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and held at The Burson Center. Panelists were Dr. N. Jane McCandless, dean of the College of Social Sciences at UWG; Wendy Lucio, vice president of human resources (shared services) at Southwire LLC; and Alicia Hill, entrepreneur and owner of multiple health club businesses in metro Atlanta.

Dr. Jane Marrero, UWG’s first lady, opened the sold-out event by welcoming the audience and panelists.

“I’m excited to hear from this distinguished panel of speakers today, and I know they’re going to give us a lot of insight to the issues we face with our careers and knowing our worth,” she said. “At the University of West Georgia, we are in the business of transforming and empowering students to reach their full potential. I’m excited to hear what these ladies are going to say because I know what they share with us will help us create an environment that is more engaging, supportive and inclusive.”

Dr. Faye McIntyre, dean of the Richards College of Business and Sewell Chair of Private Enterprise, moderated the panel discussion, giving a brief introduction of each panelist and highlighting why she wanted all attendees to know their worth.

“This is one of my favorite events every year because it brings a great panel of women together from such diverse backgrounds,” McIntyre said. “According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, women earned 73 cents for every dollar paid to men in 2016. The next year, that number went down to 71 cents. Women are underrepresented in all aspects of a career – from entry level positions to upper management – even though women now outnumber men in number of college graduates.”

Questions from McIntyre and the audience included how to respond when feeling undervalued in the workplace; how to find one’s worth; and how to negotiate for a raise.

McCandless, who opened her remarks by saying she came from a “long line of strong, empowered women,” told attendees others wouldn’t be able to recognize their worth until they defined it for themselves.

“Too often, it’s us who consistently undervalue ourselves,” said McCandless, the founding dean of the College of Social Sciences at UWG. “Knowing what we’re worth helps us conquer fear we may have and empowers us to ask for what we deserve.”

Wendy Lucio
Wendy Lucio

That fear can manifest itself in salary negotiations, McCandless said.

“Men negotiate for raises four times more often than women, and when we negotiate, women ask for 30 percent less than men,” McCandless said. “We’ve been socialized not to ask but to do for others. The fear we have to be seen as not humble can directly affect our bottom line.”

McCandless is a professor of sociology at UWG. Prior to stepping into the role of dean, McCandless served as chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminology, the Department of Mass Communications, and the Philosophy Program.

Her contributions to her home department and university include developing the Women's Studies program and the Survey Research Center. In the local community, she leads the development of the Carroll Rape Crisis Center and serves the Coweta Judicial Circuit as a registered mediator.

At Southwire, Lucio has held a variety of roles from executive development to internal business partner. She said she found her worth – and spent her life’s work – being a “searcher” for potential.

“At a young age, I realized the world is much bigger than what I had in mind,” Lucio said. “I want to help other people find those same opportunities and realize their potential.”

Lucio, a UWG graduate, reported men generally apply for positions when they meet approximately 50 percent of the job’s requirements, whereas women apply only when they meet 100 percent – or more – of the requirements.

“A lot of women feel like they have to be humble about where they excel,” Lucio said. “We all have value, but we have to stop being afraid to talk about it. Articulating your value doesn’t mean you’re not humble. The ability to articulate that is one of the greatest strengths you can bring.”

Alicia Hill
Alicia Hill

Hill, also a UWG graduate, echoed those sentiments, telling attendees that knowing one’s worth is important.

“Don’t feel bad about knowing what you’re worth,” said Hill, who had more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry before becoming an entrepreneur. “I spent years in corporate America trying to find my true talents. Once I found something I was good at, that’s when I found joy in my work.”

Hill currently owns three businesses: Workout Anytime Roswell/East Cobb; Workout Anytime Woodstock; and Alexis Wynter Dance Shoppe. She is also a nationally certified yoga instructor and personal trainer.

The first African-American woman to own a Workout Anytime franchise, Hill suggested women find what “brings out the genius” in them.

“The money will follow,” she said. “Put the work in, do what you’re supposed do, and then you can give back.”

Last Friday’s panel discussion was the fifth annual Women Empowering Women event. Attendance of Women Empowering Women is open to the community. For more information about the Richards College of Business, visit www.westga.edu/business.

Posted on September 26, 2018