Undergraduate Programs

Empowering Women at Clarkson

Students of Clarkson University smiling. They are participating in the annual Sigma Chi Derby Days philanthropic event.

Hello, my name is Nicole, and I am a senior global supply chain management major with minors in project management and law studies. I currently work as a marketing intern and blogger here at Clarkson University. While women make up 31% of Clarkson’s undergraduate population, it only takes a ripple to make an impactful wave. Many amazing organizations at Clarkson foster and build up female morale on campus. They have created a tight-knit, supportive community dedicated to building one another up. I have decided to highlight a few, but before we get to that, some honorable mentions are in order: women’s intramural teams and sororities are great at fostering positive female interaction. In this blog post, however, we will be focusing on the more professional women groups on campus, namely, the Society of Professional Women, Society of Women Engineers, Women & Wellness and Sister 2 Sister. 

Professional Tips & Tricks Presentation with the Society of Professional Women
Professional Tips & Tricks Presentation with the Society of Professional Women

Let’s start with the Society of Professional Women (SPW). Their mission is striving to serve the professional development of both men and women while addressing the controversies of the modern workplace. In addition, SPW continuously provides support, knowledge, and advice to all majors at Clarkson. They are very active on campus and in the community. For example, they do multiple fundraising events throughout the year and participate in events on campus, like Relay for Life and Up Til Dawn for St. Jude’s Hospital. They partner with the local Humane Society to raise money and collect donations for animals. I talked to a current member of SPW, and this is what she had to say: 

“I joined SPW because I hoped I would get some advice on my resume and some professional connections. SPW has been so much more than that for me. This year I will be attending the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, where I will attend intensive training on leadership skills, diversity and inclusion, and advocacy. Through SPW, I have not only gained professional development skills, such as resume building, interview prep, and networking strategies, but I have also developed a sense of community with other women on campus where we are given space to pursue our personal passions within the feminist movement. 

Society of Professional Women meeting with their advisor
Society of Professional Women meeting with their advisor

For example, I shared with SPW leadership that I was interested in advocacy and gender and sexual violence, and now we host a semesterly event to spread awareness about campus sexual assault, working closely with our Title IX coordinator. The two-way interaction between the members and the leadership within SPW promotes inclusivity, diverse perspectives and the empowerment of all of our members. 

Finally, we also have fun! Beyond the serious stuff, we have had movie nights, fun team building activities, tie-dyeing, tubing on Titus Mountain and more! To any students of any gender identity who are passionate about gender equality, the SPW community is with you, and we hope you join and bring not just your resume, but your personal vision in the movement toward gender equality.”

— Izzie Grasso ’21

Society of Women Engineers at their National Conference in California
Society of Women Engineers at their National Conference in California

Next up, we have the Society of Women Engineers, also known as SWE. Their mission is to motivate women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity. SWE has many active members throughout campus who are involved in almost all aspects of campus life. They hold fundraisers for both local and global humanitarian causes through events here on campus and offer career fair help to their members and the general student body. SWE has a very esteemed and extensive alumni base that remains active. I spoke to a current member, and this is what she had to say:

“I joined SWE because I felt that being a part of an organization that is primarily made up of women (not completely, because anyone can join!) and that actively works to support women would be extremely helpful during college and the rest of my professional career. SWE is a huge organization and there are so many opportunities at all levels; chapter, collegiate, regional and international! SWE has inspired me to embrace being a woman in engineering and helped me understand that while there may be more challenges, it is very possible to be successful in a male-dominated field — especially with tons of confident, successful women supporting you! 

Through SWE, I have been able to participate in various community events around Potsdam, like volunteering at the North Country Children’s Museum and working with local Girl Scouts, and to travel all the way to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Anaheim, California, for the 2018 and 2019 annual conferences! I would encourage all female engineering majors to join SWE because, regardless of your involvement and time commitment, it is a group of strong women who will always have your back and who can give you advice on their experiences with everything from internships to classes. Becoming a national member of SWE also gives you access to a private job board, all kinds of classes and speakers and the opportunity to attend national and regional conferences!”

— Callie Lindsay ’20

SWE Dinner with former Clarkson University president Tony Collins & his wife Karen Collins
SWE Dinner with Tony & Karen Collins

We also have Sister 2 Sister, which is a women’s support group focused on uplifting and empowering the women of Clarkson University. This organization embraces our differences and promotes social, mental and professional development. It is the newest female-centered group on campus. They focus on being a safe place for women of different backgrounds and cultures to come to and find support. They help each other in professional, personal and academic outlets. I was able to speak with one of the members and this is what she had to say: 

SWE National Conference in California
SWE National Conference in California

“I wanted to join Sister 2 Sister because I wanted to be in a place where I feel comfortable and fit in, especially going to a school that is majority male. Sister 2 Sister is a place where I can go and not feel like a minority and not feel left out. This club has brought me a family that is there for me and a group of amazing women that I can look up to and learn from. This group also discusses the issues we all face and know that we are not here alone. I highly recommend more women to join the club so that we can continue to empower each other.” — Mariama Jawo ’21

Women & Wellness is a group on campus dedicated to promoting women’s health and well-being while providing opportunities to improve personal leadership and teamwork skills in a safe and supportive environment. This is done through workshops on personal leadership, organization, meal planning/prepping and healthy habit formation, as well as through open gym hours to work out together. This is a great opportunity to meet new friends and support a healthy lifestyle on campus. The “freshmen slump” is alive and well, and this club is combating that fatigue in a fun and inclusive way! They are also relatively new on-campus but are already having a positive impact on the students. This is what one of their members had to say: 

“I joined Women & Wellness because it gave me another group of women that I can do things with. It’s given me the motivation to eat better because I have that kind of support from them. For others, it gave them a gym partner. We also destress together, especially during finals. I’ve gained a lot of confidence from this group of women, and it’s really what you make it. It’s so nice to know I have that kind of force behind me.” 

— Brooke Davis ’21 

Women and Wellness members posing in front of their presentation
Women and Wellness Presentation

All in all the community on Clarkson is an inclusive and welcoming environment. It doesn’t matter your gender, race, or sexual orientation. Clarkson is also aware of the importance of providing spaces and opportunities for students to build relationships with people like them and also learning about people from different backgrounds. Women groups on campus foster strength. We still live in workplaces that are still for the most part male-dominated and it is something we as women need to learn to navigate. Clarkson has helped me personally to stand up for myself not just as a woman but as a black woman in the professional world. For any woman coming to Clarkson or even those currently enrolled my advice would be to find a supportive group of women and the clubs listed above are the best place to start. 

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Author: Nicole Onyia

Hello, my name is Nicole, and I am a senior global supply chain management major with minors in project management and law studies. I currently work as a marketing intern and blogger here at Clarkson University.

1 Comment

  1. I am trying to find phone #s for the IFC and Panhel Presidents. I am looking to get on an agenda ASAP. This is for community service/philanthropy. I am a former Greek Affairs Coordinator (1998-2001) at Clarkson. I run a charity here in town and need volunteers for an event.

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