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Eight women in the workforce, ranging from recent Penn graduates to experienced career women, explored professional challenges such as bridging the age gap and succeeding in male-dominated work environments.

Credit: Connie Kang

Last night, the Wonderful Wednesdays at Wharton series presented Working Women Around the World. (Try saying that five times fast.)

Targeted at Wharton women, but available to all Wharton students, last night’s Wonderful Wednesday event consisted of a panel of eight prominent businesswomen largely committed to international business. About 50 people sat in the audience.

The panelists — including female representatives from Philadelphia’s Hyatt at the Bellevue, Citi in Hong Kong and the World Bank — primarily addressed the challenges facing women in the international workforce today and their means of overcoming these obstacles.

2012 College graduate Terri Wang, an advisory in Ernst & Young’s Financial Services Office, addressed the gender imbalance in the business world. Moreover, she noted that she is often challenged by the obvious age gap between her colleagues and herself.

Lauri Gold, the director of Catering and Convention Services at Hyatt at the Bellevue, agreed with Wang. As a single mother, she also highlighted a prevailing challenge in her life: child care.
“We don’t have the support that other countries do,” she said, referring to the benefits women receive in other countries that they don’t receive in the United States.

Judy Ellis-Taylor, sales and marketing director at Hyatt at the Bellevue, said she has learned a lot from working in a male-dominant industry. “Think like a man, but act like a lady,” she said. “Working in a male-dominant atmosphere teaches you how to think strategically and not with emotion.”

She further mentioned that many women are hesitant to join the international workforce for fear that they may one day have to uproot their family.

After all eight panelists had addressed their work experience and challenges, Wharton sophomore Lisa Peng, vice president of publications for Wharton Women and the event’s moderator, shifted gears and asked the panelists for advice.

Eunji Tu of Citi in Hong Kong emphasized the importance in taking a leap of faith. “If your heart is in having that international experience, just go for it.”

Ellis-Taylor promoted the necessity of human contact in the business world.

“Our world is traveling a million miles an hour,” she said. “Because we’re always in a hurry to get things done, we lose sight of the human element.”

Gold added, “Don’t let [those] barriers, whatever they are, hold you back. Love what you do and you’ll work it out and find solutions.”

The different host groups, including Wharton Undergraduate Consulting Club, Wharton Women, Wharton Politics and Business Association, Wharton Undergraduate Hospitality, Travel Club and Delta Sigma Pi, aimed to show women what types of work women can do. “I wanted people to be able to see the variety of different opportunities throughout different industries and taking that to the global perspective,” Peng said.

2012 College graduate Hilary Gerstein, a business analyst at Deloitte, ended the panel with a last piece of advice. “Do the things that are right for you,” she said. “You own your career.”

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