Members of the Women’s Network Lehigh chapter meet for their Executive Board meeting. From top left: Devon Jackson, Amanda Sax, Alissa Flores, Isabella Pecoraro, Jasleen Sandhu, Tricia Saint Fort, Emma Flaherty, Manasi Vitthanala. (Courtesy of The Women’s Network)

The Women’s Network empowers women leaders and acknowledges barriers in the workforce

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The Women’s Network, a club aimed to empower collegiate women and acknowledge barriers women in the workforce, started a chapter at Lehigh in the fall of 2020. Since its inception, the club has gained over 400 members. 

Isabella Pecoraro, ‘23, vice president of the Lehigh chapter, said the chapter fosters a networking community where women empower one another to become leaders.  

“We are very big on ambition,” Pecoraro said. “We know ambition can be a connotative term, especially within our workforce today. So we are really prominent about establishing that ambition is good, and that us women can find networking opportunities and build on them.”

The Women’s Network meets every two weeks.

Devon Jackson, ‘21, president of the Women’s Network at Lehigh, said the turnout rate for meetings has varied so far. She said last semester there was a smaller turnout than expected and the executive board worked to figure out what was wrong. 

Since the start of the spring semester, meetings have had turnouts of over 50 women. 

“It was such a great thing to see a higher turnout, people asking questions, people engaging,” she said. “Now in our GroupMe we have a lot more engagement between people and it’s just fantastic.”

Alyssa Schwartz, ‘23, Women’s Network campus ambassador, said she is happy to be gaining skills that are not as focused on her major.

“I am getting some skills that I might not have thought I needed because the arts and sciences are not as strong at teaching their students how to network and build their resume as much as the business kids are,” she said.

Meetings and workshops focus on a range of skills such as resume building, creating a LinkedIn page or working on a cover letter. Events are geared toward networking and have had prominent speakers come talk about their experiences in the workforce.

“We have female speakers talk about how they became successful and what steps they took,” Schwartz said. “But also they often have stories of times where there were gender barriers put in place that they had to overcome, which is important to hear about because there will often be barriers.”

Club members are not just confined to meetings on Lehigh’s campus. Members are welcome to join events happening in other chapters as well. 

Jackson said if a member is looking to work on their cover letter, they have access to another chapter’s webinar that is working on cover letters.

“We hope to keep building our network and provide opportunities to individuals to be able to be the best versions of themselves within Lehigh and after Lehigh,” Pecoraro said. “We want to give them the tools that they need in order to be successful in life and I think that is our number one goal and number one priority within the Women’s Network all over the country.”

Pecoraro said she is excited about the connections she has made through the Women’s Network. She said it’s a fun community and has made so many connections that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. 

Jackson said one of her favorite parts about the chapter is getting to see everyone on Zoom actively engaging and genuinely enjoying being there. 

Schwartz said she was excited to hear that the Women’s Network was coming to Lehigh because she wanted to learn more about how to network and build herself up professionally. 

Jackson wishes this club had existed when she was a freshman or sophomore to have someone help her with her resume and talk about confidence. 

“I really felt very isolated and unsure of myself at that time,” Jackson said. “If I can help someone else who feels that way, help change their confidence, help change the way they see themselves, help shape the person that they want to bethat’s just my whole purpose for doing this. The reason I applied for president and the reason I joined the Women’s Network is to literally help other people recognize their own potential. I just hope we reach out to everyone in terms of freshmen and sophomores and maybe help them open their eyes to new possibilities.”

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