Student government officials hosted an all-day women’s conference to encourage women to pursue leadership positions in the professional world.
The LEAN IN UC: UC Women’s Leadership Conference 2019 featured 65 speakers, including Amy Ziering, an Emmy Award-winning documentarian, and Cleo Wade, an artist, poet and author. Speakers addressed how the #MeToo movement has impacted the workplace, how women in leadership positions face difficulties and how to create change.
The event was hosted Sunday by the Undergraduate Students Association Council Office of the President and the USAC Campus Events Commission. Claire Fieldman, USAC president, said by the end of the day, they expected 300 students total to attend.
Fieldman said she wanted the event to help attendees connect with women in leadership roles.
“(I hope attendees leave with) the knowledge that there is a community of femme-identifying leaders at UCLA, across the UCs and the LA area that are invested in their success and … find someone who really resonates with them and will connect them with an opportunity,” Fieldman said.
Fieldman added she worked to expand the event from previous years after she was the only female presidential candidate out of eight candidates in the 2018 USAC election.
“The LEAN IN platform was born between the hours of 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. the night that I found out I was running for USAC against seven men,” Fieldman said. “I really felt that I had not only the ability but the responsibility to use my platform to talk about what it means to be a woman running for a position of leadership.”
Vivianna Gerges, a fourth-year history student who attended the event, said her favorite part of the event were the “breakout” sections, which grouped speakers and attendees into areas of interest such as politics, business, and the arts and film. Speakers for each group spoke about their role in the field, their individual career paths and discrimination they may have faced along the way.
“I thought this was actually a really good event because there aren’t that many (events geared toward specific industries) on campus,” Gerges said. “The breakout sections were really cool because they were catered to whatever careers you want to go into.”
Victoria Rocha, a third-year education sciences student from UC Irvine, said she attended the breakout session for nonprofits and thought it provided a good environment to learn from others.
“I love it, the speakers are really inspiring, and the breakout sessions were nice too because it’s good to get in a space with a smaller group and be able to ask questions and network,” Rocha said.
She added that about 40 students from UC Irvine attended the event and said she attended to get inspiration for her career path and see how people network.
The conference also featured a panel on intersectionality and equality, during which panelists spoke about the importance of including groups like trans-identifying individuals and women of color in discussions about equality.
Erica Chidi Cohen, an educator and author, said she thinks people from different underrepresented groups can help each other overcome marginalization in the workplace.
“I think we’re all navigating different levels of oppression, but there’s always little bit of elasticity to continue creating spaces for people who need that,” Cohen said.
Fieldman also hosted a Q&A session with Ziering to discuss the impact of her documentaries “The Invisible War” and “The Hunting Ground,” which focused on sexual harassment and assault in the military and universities, respectively.
Alley Madison, Campus Events commissioner, said she was satisfied with the turnout and thought the event ran smoothly.
“I think it’s been great, we’re seeing a lot of student engagement and also a lot of engagement between panelists, speakers and alum, and I just think it’s so exciting to see so many femme-identifying folks just brought together,” Madison said.