Symposium Begins With PanelWritten by Theresa Rose on March 26, 2015
The second annual Belle Babb Mansfield symposium began with the panel discussion “Women Entrepreneurs: Daring to be Bold by Stepping Out on Their Own.” The IWC Science Hall Auditorium was filled to capacity with students, college staff and community members for the event held Thursday morning. The three panelists shared their path to business success, their experiences running their own businesses and views on the gender gap. Their paths were not the same…Jessica Bickel, co-owner of Bickel’s Cycling and Fitness took a more traditional route and now she and her husband operate his family business, Michal Eynon Lynch co-founded her company that designs technology for the classroom with her husband and two other men. She describes her path as very curvy and circular. Jessica Ledger Kalen said she has always taken a different path, dropping out of high school at 15 to become a self-learner and now the owner of a concrete company in Fairfield. Jessica doesn’t differentiate people by sex or race and doesn’t feel she’s been treated differently in business because she’s female, Melinda said she hasn’t encountered different treatment because she is a women and agrees with Jessica that it comes down to merit not whether you are a man or a woman. But Michal disagreed saying we haven’t completely gotten there yet due to inherent differences. She also said there might not be a fix for the gender gap because if a woman wants a child it’s difficult to balance home or motherhood and a career. However, there are advantages to owning your own business and raising children. Bickel agreed. All three agreed that the gap wouldn’t close until more women owning businesses, sitting on corporate boards and serving in the legislature. All three did agree on what it takes to be an entrepreneur…be prepared to fail and to risk it all, have the ability to learn quickly and think on your feet. And be prepared for the psychological affects because being an entrepreneur is one of the toughest mental things to go thru.