On Thursday afternoon, Boston College Women in Business (WIB) hosted a talk that discussed the Time Person of the Year for 2017: “The Silence Breakers.” Every class year was represented among the attendees, and certain members of the faculty were invited by students who thought they might have an interest in talking about women’s issues in the workplace. In total, about 30 people were present at the talk.
“All of these conversations going on in the media is what inspired WIB to bring the conversation to BC’s campus,” said Nicole Robertson, director of marketing for WIB and CSOM ’20.
The Time article shared the stories of women and men who survived assault or harassment and the backlash and struggle that they faced for sharing what happened to them. The piece opened with the experience of Ashley Judd, an actress who accused Harvey Weinstein of inappropriate behavior in 1997—the first of many women to share similar claims. She described the “whispers” spoken throughout Hollywood after an inappropriate incident—the instinct to warn other women about a dangerous perpetrator while never taking legal action to correct the problem. Her tale was similar to the countless told afterward, but it was Judd’s willingness to sit with The New York Times in October that sparked the revolutionary “#MeToo” movement this past year.
The discussion was prompted by questions related to that Time article: How do we see this revolution making an impact (or not making an impact) at Boston College? How can we make breaking the silence the norm? If sexual harassment training has been shown to backfire, how do we improve it for the future?
The audience later broke into small groups of about six women, which touched upon topics like workplace culture, BC’s social climate, and the mental effects of disclosing an assault or inappropriate behavior.
As the conversations progressed, people began exchanging names and emails as they made connections over the issues at hand. Professors offered their services to those in need of mentors and asked probing questions in an effort to catch a glimpse into the student world that they aren’t always privy to. The professors often remarked that they hadn’t thought of something in the way that a student had just explained it and were receptive to hearing more about their viewpoints before responding. This was exactly what Robertson had in mind.
“The goal was to have faculty, who have a broader perspective and obviously more experience in the workplace, come together with students to have a conversation about what goes on on campus,” she said. “I hope that everyone has heard some stories today that inspired them and gave them the confidence to go out and continue these conversations.”
Robertson aspires to host more events like this through WIB, especially after such a positive turnout at this event. In addition to faculty members from CSOM, there were others from the communication department and the Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics in attendance.
Beyond hosting these discussions, WIB also offers professional development events, healthy living outings, job opportunities, and a mentorship program between upperclassmen and underclassmen. According to its website, WIB is “an organization, network, and community of undergraduate female students dedicated to their empowerment and education. WIB is committed to the growth and expansion of professional and personal opportunities for its members, with a focus on business, leadership, and female celebration and innovation.”
Featured Image via Boston College Women in Business