Women’s Empowerment Panel held to promote female success in the workforce


Lehigh University held a Women Entrepreneur Discussion in the STEPS building March 25 as part of the Baker Institute’s Women’s Empowerment Program.

The discussion featured a panel of three female leaders in the workforce, who shared their successes and lessons learned during their journey to prosperity. Jennifer Gentile Long, ’93, Mary Evans and Alita Friedman, ’87, highlighted the importance of creative thinking, determination and hard work in trying to make a difference in the world and our own lives.

“If you want something, you have to go after it,” Friedman said.

The Baker Institute at Lehigh works to promote entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation. The Women Entrepreneurship Discussion was just one of nine events working toward promoting women empowerment within and outside of the campus. This particular event emphasized a focus on women in the workforce.

Wednesday’s discussion provided the opportunity for interested audience members to gain insight from three female CEOs and business leaders, and learn how they are innovative entrepreneurial thinkers.

Co-executive Director of the Baker Institute Lisa Getzler works to foster the realization of entrepreneurial ideals in any field.

“You are being educated to create your future,” Getzler told the attendees before the discussion began.

The panel members emphasized the importance of this education in their business successes and reminded audience members of their education’s value.

Friedman is a self-proclaimed workaholic, attributing her many successes to her creative thinking and drive. Friedman used her Lehigh education and natural instincts to become the mastermind being Pretty Ugly, LLC, creators of the “ugly” plush stuffed Ugly Dolls. She has appeared on the “Today Show” seven times and is now working on her new branding and licensing company, Alita’s Brand Bar.

Despite her success, Friedman did not deny that she had a “big learning curve.” She stressed to the audience the importance of taking these lessons and growing from them.

The panel had a main focus on empowering women and instilling in them the confidence to find similar triumphs.

Evans embodies what it means to be an empowered woman in the business field. She owns a business as a financial planner and noted that “almost no women do what I do.”

Most significantly, her position in a “testosterone field” does not discourage her in her endeavors. She shared the message that money provokes an emotional response in most people, and women should have the confidence to enter into the field of finance.

“You can’t hit a target you don’t have,” Evans said, underlining the importance of always having a goal in mind and holding oneself accountable to that goal.

During the panel, Long spoke about her work with gender violence crimes.

“We believe that if you’re given the right information, you will make the right decisions,” Long said. Her story emphasized thinking outside of the box and understanding that there will always be more than one path to get where you need to go.

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