‘Providing space’: Several campus organizations aim to provide a community for women in male-dominated fields

Providing+space%3A+Several+campus+organizations+aim+to+provide+a+community+for+women+in+male-dominated+fields

Debra Murray, Digital News Editor

Finding a community can be difficult for women in male-dominated fields, but some women-led professional groups at WKU are working to change that.

Aquesha Daniels, assistant professor of management and the faculty advisor for Women in Business, helped found the Women in Business club in October 2017 when a student came to Daniels wanting to expand Women in Economics.

“There are so many women in different business disciplines,” Daniels said. “She really wanted to cater to those students and so I was the first faculty advisor for it, and we crafted it to get to where it is right now.”

The organization hosts panels for speakers, LinkedIn workshops and other activities geared towards professional development.

“It’s really about making sure that people have accountability partners in a social community,” Daniels said. “They also do things outside of that, like maybe going bowling, to really create a good community of females.”

While Women in Business is primarily focused on women seeking leadership development, the organization is open to anyone. According to the WKU Women in Business website, the organization aims to answer “What can we do to empower women to improve their lives and inspire them to improve the lives of others?”

“It really is about developing leadership skills for females who are seeking to be in the business environment because, of course, we can do it as well,” Daniels said. “It’s not limited to just females. Anyone can join if they support the mission which is just simply providing space and opportunity for those who sometimes may not have it.”

The majority of the students in the Gordon Ford College of Business are male. According to the 2021 WKU Factbook, 1,214 male students and 996 female students enrolled in the GFCB in the fall of 2020.

“Personally for me, I’m a lawyer by trade, so I understand how often you can be in an industry that’s very heavily male dominated,” Daniels said. “But that doesn’t mean that you can’t shine as well and have opportunity, and I think it’s important to create opportunity space in a community for those who are like-minded.”

Nahid Gani is a geology professor and a member of Women in STEM and Engineering, a faculty group for women in science fields. WISE started in 2014 by former Provost Cheryl Stevens. Gani was the recipient of the WISE award in 2017.

“Women female students, if they have the passion [for] any field in science, they should look into it,” Gani said. “We all know [it] is challenging, because you have to actually explore, expose yourself to the different things like whether you are doing lab work, or you are going out in the field.”

Personally for me, I’m a lawyer by trade, so I understand how often you can be in an industry that’s very heavily male dominated. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t shine as well and have opportunity, and I think it’s important to create opportunity space in a community for those who are like-minded”

— Aquesha Daniels

Gani said the geology program is male-dominated and isn’t diverse, but she hopes to see that change. 

“We have to go out and just study the Earth and different things, which is quite fun, but it’s also very challenging for women,” Gani said.

The current climate problem should encourage more women to become involved in science fields, Gani said.

“There is not a better time to study geoscience, because we’re actually dealing with climate change and global warming,” Gani said. “All those issues and creatures are fundamental in [the] need to know the fundamental geoscience to study those like climate change [how] how it is affecting our planet.”

Digital News Editor Debra Murray can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy.