Oliver: UO needs more gender-specific initiatives in the LCB

University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business (LCB) is an esteemed program that most recently, in the US News and World Report “Best Undergraduate Business Schools rankings from 2019”, was ranked 26th among public business schools. The institution’s work on gender is producing more female leaders, according to Oregon Consulting Group (OCG) President  Lindsey Gano. There needs to be continued effort to increase the number of women in business, as the number of women CEO’s in Fortune 500 Business dropped by 25% in 2017-18 according to Fortune.com.

The efforts of the LCB should be trickling up—improving the landscape of women in business across the board. Fluctuations in these numbers suggest that business schools should be expanding programs that empower women while targeting concentrations that are notoriously male dominated. 

Student-run clubs like Women in Business provide community, guest speakers and leadership opportunities for women who are looking to pursue a career in business. This specialized club serves the purpose of building skills, confidence and a network for students prior to entering the workforce. This is a resource that provides encouragement and support for women who lack gender representation in the career they are pursuing. 

There needs to be a continued effort to support women in business—specifically in subfields where female representation is especially lacking. 

The LCB’s Investment group has never had more than a handful of female participants. This mirrors what we see in the real world; as Pew Research Center data from 2017 suggests, women only hold 10 percent of upper management positions in S&P 1500 companies. Positive change is on the horizon heading into the 2019-2020 school year, as the LCB Investment group is welcoming their first female president. 

It is evident that student groups are making progress in regards to gender diversity. The LCB should not stop here but ask more complex questions: Why are the women leaders in the LCB not finding upper level positions in the business world after graduation? How can the school address that problem? The LCB has an opportunity to implement a cutting edge program geared to generate powerful women in business. 

It can seem overwhelming to enter the business world with a goal of being a Fortune 500 CEO when so few women who have made it that far. With limited women CEO’s, one might find it more attainable to pursue a mid-level management position. The reasons for this gender disparity are complex. When a woman cannot see what she dreams to be, it limits her aspirations.  If she saw someone successfully manage 100 employees, three kids and a partner at home, she might believe that she could do it too. 

When Lindsey Gano OCG President walked into a resume workshop, she was told she had to remove her headshot. The advisor explained that her photo showed her as a young Phillipino woman, and that including it would hurt her chances of getting a job. 

“It sucks for me to do that, but it was a thing I needed to do in order to change people's perspectives,” Gano said.

When talking about gender in the business world, it is important to highlight the disparities between white women and women of color. The intersectionalities that a woman of color experiences make her pay, hiring and experience in a corporate business vastly different from that of a white woman. According to Fortune, The Number of Black CEOs in Fortune 500 Companies is at its Lowest Since 2002, the number of women of color in the industry has been on the decline. When addressing issues of gender inequality, it is essential to acknowledge race and other determinants that affect a woman's success in an industry.

Correction on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 10: A previous version of this column incorrectly said that LCB student-run clubs like "Women in Sports Business provide community, guest speakers and leadership opportunities for women who are looking to pursue a career in sports business.” The LCB houses the Women in Business group and the Warsaw Sports Marketing club, but not the Women in Sports Business club. The column has been updated to reflect this.