SRU students hope to launch Women’s Business Center

business women in an office

Feb. 10, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - A $4,289 Slippery Rock University Faculty-Student Research Grant will allow two students to develop a Women's Business Center for the Region at SRU to research the needs of women in business and empower them for success.

The students are recruiting women alumnae in business and others to provide female SRU students, alumni and working professionals instruction in starting a business, contract negotiations, salary negotiations, mentoring and work-life balance.

Cheyanne Crevar and Katelin McCallan, SRU master of business administration majors from Mercer and Beaver, developed the concept for what they have named the Women's Solar Center. The Solar Center name is a metaphor for the sun, as in helping women in business to shine like the sun, they said.

Melanie Anderson and Diane Galbraith, associate professors in the School of Business, will serve as advisers and ongoing contacts at the center. Frances Amatucci, associate professor in the School of Business, will serve as the organization's adviser.

Melanie Anderson

   ANDERSON

"Our goal is to enlighten, empower and ignite women in business," Anderson said, adding that men are welcome to get involved.

Anderson obtained the $4,289 grant for a student-faculty research survey titled "Analyzing Needs of Slippery Rock University Women - Current Students and Alumni - in Order to Develop a Women's Business Center for the Region."

"The survey will be (administered) this term and finish in early summer," Anderson said. "We will use this information to further guide the direction of the center and to help us plan events in the fall."

The center is not just for business majors but also for any student, including humanities majors. Graduates in all fields need to business savvy to negotiate salary, she said.

Anderson said the first Women's Solar Center event, an inaugural start-up meeting Feb. 2, drew 50 women. Planned events for center participants include networking with alumna female business leaders, career fairs, stress management seminars, document building coaching and an etiquette dinner. She said the center would reach out to the community.

"We're trying to create a regional presence, but we're starting here first," she said.

Dues for joining the organization are $25 a semester or $35 for a whole year. Dues will pay for speakers and events.

Anderson said alumni would be recruited to mentor SRU students about discrimination in the workplace. Anderson said women, on average, earn $4,600 less annually in their first job then men. An American Association of University Women study shows that women in Pennsylvania make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes.

U.S. President John Kennedy signed The Equal Pay Act of 1963 aimed at abolishing wage disparity, but wage gaps continue to exist.

"In business more than 50 percent of the workforce are women," Anderson said, "but when you're looking at chief executive officers, it's probably more like 5 percent. We have that big of an imbalance." She said women are underrepresented in many fields and higher management.

Crevar, Women's Solar Center vice president, said, "Equal pay is only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to my passion for helping women in business. Obviously, as a woman, I have felt some of the unfairness and "boy's club" attitude that exists. I want to be able to help all women to push past the stereotypes and to recognize their full potential."

"I hope that by the time my future daughter works, she might earn as much as any man," Crevar said. "Knowing that the gap exists prepares us as women to work harder for the same rewards that men receive. Although I believe in hard work, I also believe in equal pay.

Crevar said she is interested in learning more about the human side of business to help students.

"So often we think of corporations as these huge entities that run on their own, but that is not the case," she said. "People run businesses and people hire people, so I believe there needs to be a greater focus on the faces in the companies. I think that it is very important to prepare our students to enter the workforce as best as we can, and I do not feel that need is always met."

Cheyanne Crevar

   CREVAR

Crevar said gender should never be a factor in hiring, even in areas that many perceive as a man's field. For instance, the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals recently hired the NFL's first woman assistant coach.

"I think that is wonderful," Crevar said. "The NFL may be traditionally male dominated, but that does not mean that females don't know just as much about the sport. I think the NFL has started to realize they need to hire for ability not based on archaic rules."

Crevar said her research findings would produce an MBA paper. "My goal is to help women find a place to learn about business outside of the classroom," she said. "From my experience as an undergraduate, there is not an organization or group that specifically helps women prepare for the world of business. Overall, we want a life-long learning experience throughout the organization."

After receiving her MBA, Crevar said she plans to move to Florida to start a career in human resources. "I hope to work in recruiting and training and eventually work my way up in a company that I am passionate about," she said.

Katelin McCallan

   McCALLAN

McCallan, president of the Women's Solar Center, said men and women could benefit from involvement.

"I am really interested in more of the gender aspects of business," she said. "I would like to see more women break the mold as well as having men and women learn more about women's side of business and gain a better understanding so we can learn and create better relations in the workplace."

McCallan said she is passionate about women in business because the "glass ceiling" bothers her.

"As a woman, I am already working harder and smarter to be taken seriously," she said. "On top of that, I'm going to get paid less. I would say that I'm more passionate about this subject because I see a problem and really want to help others. A glass ceiling is still out there. The more people that understand the inequity, the more people will take action to help the cause."

After receiving her MBA, MaCallan said she plans to become certified public accountant and eventually become a certified fraud examiner.

For more information, contact Anderson at melanie.anderson@sru.edu, or Katelin McCallan at kam1037@sru.edu.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 | gordon.ovenshine@sru.edu