Local women of influence say gender need not be a barrier
June 10, 2016

Local women of influence say gender need not be a barrier

June 5, 2016

By MEGAN E. BLOOM (mbloom@sungazette.com) , Williamsport Sun-Gazette

Five decades after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited sex discrimination in employment, women have made great strides in the workforce, though it hasn’t always come easily.

Lycoming County President Judge Nancy Butts became the first female judge in the county in 1995.

In that year, she said there was some anxiety because the public never had been exposed to a woman in that role before.

At the beginning of her career, many people in the judicial system did not want to work with her or hear what she had to say, she said.

“It was during those times it made you realize that some days a woman has to work twice as hard to be thought of as just as good as a man,” Butts said.

Through patience and showing her colleagues her dedication to the community, minds began to change, she said. Now she is in her third term as judge.

Barbara Hudock, president and CEO of Hudock Capital Group, said she never planned on becoming a stockbroker and certainly not the CEO of her own company.

She started as a secretary for Merrill Lynch in the 1970s when a manager encouraged her to work as a broker in the small accounts department. From there, she moved up the company ranks.

In that era, women were not supposed to be strong or successful, she said. Some individuals would make negative comments that she would not make it in the business.

When there was negativity, she would call her clients because she found she could recharge her outlook through them. She was there for her clients, not the people who put her down, she said.

Through all of the hurdles, she was able to start her own company in 2001 where she enjoys empowering her employees and positively influencing her clients’ lives.

It was not uncommon just a few decades ago for gender to be an issue in the workplace until a woman showed that she could “play with the boys.”

Daphne Bowers, Montgomery Area School District superintendent, said gender should not impact somebody’s opinion of a person.

If you work hard and prove yourself that’s more important than your gender, she said.

Jennifer Wilson, CEO and president of the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, said women have made great advances and done wonderful things.

She asked, isn’t the goal for people to do wonderful things, whether a man or a woman? Working for the greater good is more important than gender, she said.

Kendra Aucker, CEO and president of Evangelical Community Hospital, said it is an exciting time for women in leadership. Labels are disappearing, and that gets rid of divisions and creates a more inclusive world.

“I want people to see me as a woman but as a strong woman in a strong leadership position,” she said. “My being a woman has nothing to do with the job that I do.”

In the mind of Pennsylvania College of Technology President Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, invisible roadblocks such as the glass ceiling do not exist.

The glass ceiling is the idea that there is an intangible barrier that prevents women and other minorities from obtaining upper-level jobs, according to Merriam-Webster.

If a person is in a setting where there is discrimination and harassment, leave that environment and find a place to thrive, Gilmour said, adding, “You can only be small and taken advantage of if you let yourself be.”

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