VOL. 133 | NO. 41 | Monday, February 26, 2018
Realization of ‘Strength in Numbers’ Can Help Women Continue Advancing
By Don Wade
The accomplished female panelists at the Women & Business Seminar held by The Daily News Publishing Co. on Thursday, Feb. 22, were living evidence of how much progress there has been for women, even if there are still too many difficult moments.
“Time’s up is very real,” said Dr. Marjorie Hass, the first woman president at Rhodes College.
Joining Hass on the panel were Tannera George Gibson, an attorney with Burch, Porter & Johnson PLLC, and Dr. Susan Murrmann, co-founder of McDonald Murrmann Center for Wellness and Health. Daily News Publishing Co. publisher and CEO Eric Barnes served as moderator for the event held at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
“We’ve discovered there’s strength in numbers,” Gibson said of the recent movements aimed at supporting women speaking up about sexual harassment.
Added Murrmann: “We need to hold our friends, family and colleagues accountable.”
Hass said there was a time when she downplayed the idea of “firsts” for women, including her own. She was the first female president at Austin College in Texas before she came to Rhodes. She looks at things differently now, in part because there has been a national parade of women coming forward to tell their stories of sexual harassment.
These stories have included women faculty members at universities and colleges across the country and Hass found herself asking, “Really, still?”
Before the panel discussion, each of the three women shared a bit of their personal stories. Gibson perhaps summarized things best for all of them when she said: “Getting here was neither simple nor easy.”
Each of them had practical advice to offer the audience. Murrmann shared several sayings she has dubbed “Murrmannisms,” including: “Never stop asking why and don’t believe everything you’re told,” and “Find role models and be a role model,” and “Trust your instincts” and “Know all aspects of your business.”
One audience member who said she gets extra work put on her every time she attends an office meeting, asked how she could avoid getting dumped on.
“Say no,” Gibson said, adding, “It’s a struggle because as a woman you feel you have to. So you take it on anyway because you don’t feel you have a choice.”
Murrmann said women also need to be wary of the try-to-change-people trap: “As women we want to nurture and help and change, and sometimes you can’t and just have to cut it off.”
All of the panelists encouraged women to chase their dreams, while realizing they will need a big dose of resiliency.
“You will get knocked down,“ Hass said.
The key, of course, is getting back up and going forward despite the obstacles.
“Do what you love and don’t be afraid to go after it,” Gibson said.
The next installment in The Daily News Publishing Co. Seminar Series will be “The Status of Health Care” on April 12, followed by “Green Space Renaissance” on May 3.