On the first day of Women's History Month, a group of professors, professionals and students gathered at the Carolina Inn to talk about the obstacles women still face in the 21st century.
The UNC chapter of She’s the First, an international non-profit organization that fights gender inequality through education, hosted the annual International Women’s Day Tea at the Carolina Inn Sunday.
The event included a panel discussion focusing on the elevation of women and women’s education, as well as a silent auction. The auction’s proceeds will go toward the organization’s University-affiliated scholarship recipients from overseas.
Kathryn Weatherford, a Ph.D. student in the department of psychology and neuroscience, was one of the speakers on the panel.
“Empowering women and giving them a voice also invites women to the conversation as well. You can get varied perspectives that have different ideas, different thoughts and different life experiences. All that together sums up to a better experience for all,” Weatherford said.
Alexandra Smith, a senior and president of the UNC chapter of She's the First, asked the panel if anyone had faced any challenges in their educational or professional careers that demonstrated how women are hindered because of their gender.
“I think ‘Which one?’” Gloria Thomas, director of the Carolina Women's Center, said.
Thomas said that she remembers a moment when a professor told her she would never be able to major in the subject she wanted to. Thomas also brought up the issue of sexual assault.
Smith concluded the discussion by asking panelists what they hoped would be included in similar conversations about women's empowerment in the future. Panelists mentioned creating safe spaces, solidarity and community for women as some important steps.
“I feel like everybody that came got a sense of what She’s the First is and everything we do. I think overall we had a lot of success with our silent auction, which will be great to go to all of our scholars,” she said.
Smith also said that looking forward, the group hopes the event’s turnout continues to grow.
“Each year we hope this event will be bigger and bigger. This is our biggest one,” she said.
Kate Papadopoulos, a senior and secretary for UNC's chapter of She’s the First, said the group aimed to have a diverse and inclusive panel this year.
“We’ve heard feedback in the past that we wanted a more diverse panel and I think we achieved that this year,” she said. “I hope the event will empower women in education and also later as they go into the workplace.”
Thomas said she said she was pleased on how diverse the panel was.
“We all came from different perspectives," Thomas said. "They couldn’t have done a better job getting an array of people from different backgrounds."
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