Editor's note: After publication, Rachael Overland informed The Collegian that the "organization is for women and non-binary identifying individuals, but the club's open speaker events and panels will be open to everyone irregardless of gender."
University of Richmond students have begun the process of forming a women in business club with the help of faculty and administration.
Junior Rachael Overland and senior Camilla Cabot have a vision for a club where students across campus can join regardless of whether they are majoring in business, they said.
The initiative of the club will focus on a mentorship program in which upperclass women provide support to underclass women. The club is also going to highlight the successes of female entrepreneurs in Richmond, Overland and Cabot said.
“You need to learn how to build your own support system and really rely on other people,” Overland said.
The first day that Overland and Cabot talked to students about the club, they received about 25 signatures of students who displayed interest and wanted to learn more, including some men, they said.
“There were a few times when boys were like, ‘Oh, can I sign up too? Can I show my support for that too?,’” Cabot said.
Although women will be the primary focus, Overland and Cabot plan on allowing men, women, and gender non-conforming students to join the club.
“Women are definitely the front and center focus and if guys want to show their support, we will welcome that with open arms,” Overland said. “You don’t have to experience harassment to know that it exists for a woman.”
Frank Allen, director of employer relations in Career Services, has discussed the goals of the Women in Business club with Overland on a few occasions and supports the club's efforts to be inclusive.
“If there are male students that want to be supportive of that or learn about what issues or challenges women in business may be facing or thinking about," he said, "I think that’s wonderful from a support and personal-education perspective."
Nancy Bagranoff, dean of the Robins School of Business, expressed her desire for the formation of the club.
“Women need a little more support right now,” she said in reference to the national #MeToo movement. “Women at the top are still lagging a bit.”
Maura Alexander, faculty adviser of the club and a visiting professor, as well as Allen would like to see more women going into the finance and banking industries, they said.
“There are still not a huge number of women at the top ranks in business,” she said.
Despite this, Cabot and Overland explained that their goal for the club is to focus on professionalism.
“You don’t need to be in finance to need a LinkedIn,” Cabot said.
It was important for Overland and Cabot to have the support of the administration before starting the formation process, they said.
“When the students came to me and were so clearly passionate about it and felt there was a place for it, I just thought, ‘Great why not support that?’” Alexander said.
Allen and Overland discussed financing some events through Career Services that would be hosted by the Women in Business club.
“As a part of the university we have a budget where we can fund programs and events that we think will serve the needs of our students,” Allen said. “I was willing to provide financial support for an event that was geared toward women interested particularly in finance, but it could be more broad than that.”
Samara Reynolds, associate director at Career Services, expressed her excitement for the formation of the club.
“It’s exciting to see new clubs and organizations coming about based on student’s passions and interests," she said. “I think it’s amazing that we have such great female leadership in the business school.”
Contact news writer Victoria Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.