Historically, Bowdoin women who wished to enter the field of business faced increased hurdles in getting internship and career opportunities. Founded by Kayla Baker ’09, Bowdoin Women in Business (BWIB) serves as a community of peers with resources, solidarity and support. Next Monday, Baker is returning to deliver a Zoom talk for the club addressing the field under a world fundamentally changed by COVID-19.
Claire Traum ’21, co-leader of BWIB, expressed excitement for this upcoming talk with Baker. Having been involved with the club since her first year, Traum said that BWIB offered much-appreciated assistance and resources for her to discover her interest and obtain concrete career advice.
“I attended events that spoke to me freshman year, and I was very unsure about what I wanted to do. And I really appreciated the leadership I saw in some of the upperclassmen and the events organized around sharing advice,” Traum said in a Zoom Interview with the Orient. “I remember one event my freshman year was a dinner with President Rose, and his wife, Julianne. And that was a really special opportunity that I just thought, ‘wow, this club made this event possible.’”
The club offers around five events per semester, all geared toward sharing resources and opening up discussions about business fields. Traum mentioned that interested students are encouraged to sign up for the mailing list even if they can’t make all the meetings.
“The beauty of Bowdoin Women in Business is that it’s [event-based], so you can attend events that you’re interested in,” she said. “Our club is really [catering to] those people who are interested in business [and] want to be on an email list, receiving information about alumni and possible events, but might not have time to commit every week to a consistent time block.”
Traum believes that in order to ensure everyone has equal footing in job opportunities and address gender disparities in the business field, uplifting women entrepreneurs at the college level is of critical importance.
“Our big-picture goals are just to really empower women on campus. Studies have shown, and it’s a widely known fact, that women are not participating in the field of business as much as men and there’s discrimination often in that realm,” Traum said. “And so our goal is to really empower women and support them in searching for opportunities, and having the confidence to really present themselves and take initiative in participating in business roles.”
BWIB is also collaborating with Smart Women Securities, a Bowdoin club dedicated to bringing together women interested in finance and investments. The two partnered in bringing Christina Qi, CEO of Databento, for a discussion over Zoom on Tuesday.
Nailah Khoory ’22, a member of both groups, also highlighted the club’s resources when it comes to internship opportunities, signifying a greater sense of equality and accessibility in colleges and the finance sector.
“I was really interested in pursuing a career in finance but didn’t know which route to take because there are so many,” Khoory wrote in an email to the Orient. “Joining [BWIB] and Smart Woman Securities club have taught me valuable lessons in choosing internships and a career in finance.”
“I think the finance sector is changing to better include persons of color and women. Thirty years ago, the landscape was completely different, and it’s clubs like BWIB that are helping to bring about this needed change,” she added.
Addressing the unprecedented nature of this semester, Traum said that BWIB is devising plans over Zoom to ensure that the club’s efforts continue and that more resources are made available to members.
“I’m really happy [about] new initiatives like mentorship within our own club and trying to compile resources; [this] make that [a] Zoom support system,” Traum said. “I think that those are some ways that we’re trying to think creatively about how our club can really serve the members and the Bowdoin community in general.”
The club’s co-leader, Adunni Abrams ’22, expressed hopes for the club to keep thriving as the pandemic continues to reshape the global economy and all professional fields.
“I think the most important mission of BWIB is to provide a supportive and productive space for women to engage their passion for business,” wrote Abrams in an email to the Orient. “I hope the club is able to better the network between club members and alumni of entrepreneurial backgrounds [in the future]. … Relating to COVID, I hope the club can maintain its sense of community while transitioning to online.”