Women’s Equality Day virtual panel discusses the future of women in leadership roles



The Office of Diversity and Inclusion held a facebook live virtual panel for Women’s Equality Day Wednesday.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion presented a virtual panel for the celebration of Women’s Equality Day Wednesday.

The panel was hosted by Danielle Johnson, the assistant director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and featured the voices of Sharon Cranford, a board member from the League of Women Voters, Jondalyn Marshall, a program manager for Root the Power, and Naquela Pack, a field director and volunteer.  Also featured were Rija Khan, WSU Student Body President and Mackenzie Haas, Student Body Vice President.  

Cranford began the discussion by giving a brief history of the fight for women’s rights to vote.  The women’s rights movement started during the fight for emancipation for Black people.

Groups such as the American Equal Rights Association and the National Women’s Suffrage movement started working together in the 1860’s, but not without dissent between the groups.

“All cultures and all different people need to figure out how to work together to not let powerful people pull us apart, because that’s how they conquer,” Cranford said.

When asked to speak about why women feel that they need to be asked to be invited into a space, Khan said she believes it’s the society and culture surrounding us.  She feels lucky to have grown up with a family that encouraged her to use her voice and help others.

“We build each other up, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to do things,” Khan said.  “As long as you have a vision of doing the right thing and know where you want to go, do what is right.”

Another topic discussed was the importance of identities. Pack said that in her childhood, she wanted to be a lawyer but did not see any females in that role.  

Haas pointed out that it can be hard for women to stand up in a room full of men and say that they have a different opinion.  She said it is important for women to feel empowered to voice their opinions because everyone has different perspectives based on their own life experiences.

“Our opinions are highly valuable but sometimes they are muffled because there isn’t that representation,” she said.

Cranford said that it is important for women to know what they have to offer is as important as their male counter-parts.

“Diversity is democracy with teeth,” Cranford said.

Khan said that being surrounded by supportive women has heavily shaped her. 

“The people around us, what they tell us helps us shape the viewpoint of who we are and what we can do and what our abilities are,” Khan said.