Women in the Workplace Panel focuses on under representation

Ramapo College held its Women in the Workplace Panel on March 13 to create a space for women to talk about their experiences in their careers. Four women, Arlene Quiñones, Jessica Gaeta, Brittany Carroll and Alejandra Sanchez, sat before Ramapo students to dive into what life is like as women in their specific fields of work.

Women in the United States have operated in a male-dominated society for years. There is still a gap in employment between men and women with 67.9% of men to 55.4% of women being employed in 2022. Although the gap is slowly shrinking, there are still fields, like STEM, where only one-third of the population is women.

“You have to really advocate for yourself, and you can do it in professional ways. No one is going to be your biggest advocate but you, so you really need to put yourself out there,” Gaeta, a senior associate for KPMG, said.

Not only can advocating for yourself be intimidating, but there is an additional layer of complexity in terms of intersectionality. In a 2023 report by McKinsey & Company, there are only 18% of women of color in entry-level positions and only 6% in C-suite positions.

With minimal representation, it can be difficult for women of color to feel comfortable in the workplace. Quiñones, a social director for Active International described a workplace situation where a senior supervisor made a mocking remark about Japanese people with a person of Japanese descent present.

“When I saw this happen, the colleague who was Japanese, her whole face dropped. [The supervisor] has definitely done this in spaces where this is allowed, and now she’s doing it in a mixed space and there’s reactions to it. I knew I had to do something,” said Quiñones.

Microaggressions in the workforce have an impact. Women of color are 5.5 times more likely to be confused with someone else of the same race or nationality.

The panel highlighted that there are communities who are underrepresented and marginalized in professional settings, but that it is important to create space for them to voice their ideas and opinions. A coalition of diversity is stronger than a singular community.

“There are stories of women who are belittled in their positions, even though they are educated and worked hard to get to where they are,” biology major Danielle Rosengrant said.

The number of women in their professions gaining leadership positions is growing, but the pace is slow, however, in comparison to their counterparts. The workplace panel created an opportunity to learn about the complexities of women in their careers. Their experiences and advice allowed Ramapo students to prepare for life after college.




Featured photo courtesy of Alex Corsillo