NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Speaks at Hunter College
The CUNY/New York Times in College Women’s Leadership Conference was held recently at Hunter College in Manhattan. The event featured many distinguished speakers including United States Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Hunter President Jennifer Raab, CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and Senior Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson. The dramatic backdrop behind the podium was the iconic poster of Rosie the Riveter, symbolic of women who take their place in doing the nation’s work alongside men. The poster dates from 1942, created by J. Howard Miller.
Women’s issues in the corporate and political world have always been the first priority for Gillibrand. She started a national campaign called Off The Sidelines, which stresses that women can make a huge difference everywhere if they just make sure to voice their opinions and be heard.
Twenty CUNY students, who are members of the 2011 CUNY Women’s Public Leadership Internship Program, are receiving first-hand experience this semester in the offices of female legislators, including Gillibrand’s.
Gillibrand believes that the first step to insuring that more women get involved is to ensure that all women have the resources necessary to get to work every day. This means options for childcare that are affordable and reliable. If women do not have a trusting environment in which to leave their children, they will never be able to climb the corporate ladder or focus on their career.
She pointed out in her speech that only 14 percent of women entering the workforce and only 30 percent of women in the workforce think it is worth it to put in that extra effort at the office to move to a bigger chair.
“Increasing mentorship programs and leadership programs have to be our main priority,” Gillibrand said, adding that women need to be trained in financial literacy and leadership to have the confidence they need to succeed.
“Self confidence is the most important quality that any young women could build — the knowledge that there is nothing you cannot do if you put your mind to it,” she said.
According to Dr. Charlotte Martin, CUNY faculty member, women in our society are invited to join boards, but they are only a “token of silence,” she said. This conference is an attempt to ensure that students never become tokens of silence.
Kudos to Senior Vice Chancellor Hershenson and Chancellor Goldstein, both from CUNY, for arranging this conference. Hundreds of young women came to hear the speakers. While words are powerful, the most influential images were of President Raab and Senator Gillibrand standing in front of the students as concrete evidence of the ability of women to succeed. #