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The Evolution of Women in the Workplace

Illustration of 4 women standing with arms around each other on a blue background.

While both female leaders at Bryant & Stratton College, Tracy Nannery and Kelly Mariani experienced different paths as they grew as women in their careers. As workplaces continue to evolve, both women have witnessed how cultures, standards, and even challenges have presented themselves in new ways, particularly for women. 

Advancements in Technology

For example, Nannery, now the Chief Enrollment Officer, has been with the College for over 30 years and has experienced firsthand the increasing influence that advanced technology has had on the evolution of workplace culture. Thanks to these advancements, workplaces are more flexible and collaborative than ever before.

“Technology has made it so much easier to work together and reach each other, and that allows for a lot more flexibility,” said Nannery. “Employees can work from anywhere now and still have all the resources we need to connect with each other and complete our work.”

Mariani, Career Services Leader at the College, reflected on a time when fax machines and cross-town drives were necessary to communicate and share files across organizations. Today, the young workforce is not only familiar with advanced technology but expects its utilization from their employers. “Due to the pandemic, even older people are adjusting to this new way of collaborating,” she said. “We have all had to adapt to keep up and it can feel like a major shift for some.”

While these advancements have created more opportunities for the workforce in its entirety, women have had particularly unique experiences when it comes to opportunities for growth over the past couple of decades. 

More Leadership Opportunities for Working Moms

Both women stress that where there is a will, there is a way to reach your career goals, and the existence of more resources has only made it easier.

“I have never held a belief that women have limits. My grandmother was a business leader, and I have been lucky to work at organizations like the College that have a strong female leadership presence,” said Nannery.

However, that doesn’t mean that the women haven’t overcome challenges to achieve their current success. Mariani, for example, has had the unique experience of observing the evolution of the treatment of working moms in the workplace over the past decade.

“My oldest child is 13 and my youngest is now 2, and in those 11 years I have seen an encouraging improvement in understanding and accommodation for motherhood,” said Mariani. “Now you see offices with nursing or pumping stations and their own daycares, and modern-day managers have become more understanding about the flexibility needed to balance motherhood and a career.” 

Nannery had a similar experience as a working mom assuming leadership roles. “Working moms have become more apt in prioritizing and saying no when they need to, and I think that has made all the difference in improving their experiences and those of the next generation.”  

In addition to more accommodations and accessibility to reach C-suite career dreams, Nannery and Mariani believe there is so much more to be excited about for the future of women in the workplace. Now more than ever, there are strong women accomplishing significant business goals for the next generation to look up to.

“Companies have realized that having female executives at the table is critical. We bring a unique perspective to conversations and strategies because our experiences are unique from our male counterparts,’” said Nannery. “It’s even more exciting to see more women interested in entrepreneurship and pursuing their own businesses in recent years. The sky is really the limit for women right now and I think it’s only the beginning.”

Parting Advice for Young Women

While both women look fondly on their journeys to achieving leadership roles, there are some things that they wish they could tell their younger selves. Mariani wants young women to start prioritizing their wellbeing early on in their career to ensure they can be their best selves at work and in their personal lives.

“Health is wealth! I often find that young women feel like they need to do anything and everything to achieve and impress, but at the end of the day, without your health, you can’t do your best work,” she said.

Nannery also encourages young women to find ways to invest in themselves and their professional development.

“Take classes, observe your managers, and never stop learning. Figure out your interests and values and do what you can to develop those passions authentically,” she said. “At the end of the day, your growth and development are no one else’s responsibility but your own. Make yourself a priority!”

Bryant & Stratton College will be hosting a virtual panel discussion on this topic on Wednesday, March 30 from 12 – 1 p.m on LinkedIn and Facebook. 





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