Women Leaders Storm the Hill

I recently joined a group of strong female leaders in government relations on Capitol Hill. Women in Government Relations (WGR) is an association of more than 1,200 professionals who share the common belief that women can benefit from an association built on the ideals of empowering other women.

So, I stormed the hill with this group of amazing women to spread the mission of WGR – to advance and empower women in government relations through education, professional development, networking and mentoring. It is not often I get an opportunity to go to the Hill and meet with members of Congress and their staff on such a friendly topic. During the meetings, we thanked lawmakers who were already Emeritus Members of WGR for their support and encouraged their staff to get more involved. If they were not already involved, we shared stories about how this community of women have banned together to empower others.

Beyond raising awareness of SOCMA and its mission with the offices we visited, I was reminded about how important it is to encourage women to take leadership roles, especially in a field such as specialty chemical manufacturing. The chemical industry remains a male-dominated sector, with just 15-20 percent of the workforce being women. SOCMA has worked hard to raise awareness of the women who play an important role determining the direction of the industry and the success of the companies they work for. Last year, SOCMA interviewed six powerful women, who shared the following advice:

  • Don’t be daunted by the science or the industry; people are willing to help.

  • Find a mentor or two who you can talk to about opportunities and turn to for help on any issue.

  • Don’t be satisfied with the status quo; there is still work to be done to push the glass ceiling higher, and young women need to build on the efforts made by the women who came before them.

  • Be a good and active listener, and listen to what is and isn’t being said; allow others a chance to speak; communication skills are crucial.

  • Seek out successful people; learn everything you can about the entire business; ask questions until you understand; by asking for help, you get buy-in from others and have knowledge to show to management.

  • Learn how to collaborate to solve problems.

  • Be a good team player, and actively participate in team meetings; when you have gained enough knowledge, take on the role of team leader.

  • Look and act the part.

  • Before you even enter the workforce (high school and college), reach out to companies and pursue internship opportunities to gain a practical understanding and, perhaps, line up a job before you even finish school.
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