Last week over 60 professional women in McHenry County gathered at Mixin Mingle in Woodstock to talk about topics that made them squirm in their seats. Speaker, Emily Lonigro Boylan, crafted a custom talk, “The Uncomfortable List: 5 Things Professional Women Need to Talk About,” covering truths about women that are way too often pushed under the rug.
The event was sponsored by The Fringe Network, a new digital and in-person networking group connecting professional women in McHenry County.
Boylan shared her journey of being a business owner for over 13 years, the founder of the nation’s only WBE Certified B Corp UX agency, LimeRed Studio, the President of the Board for nonprofit MOM+BABY, an activist, a philanthropist, and a mother of two, among other titles.
What she had to say boiled down to five critical lessons she learned the hard way:
- Your age will matter
- You will be judged on your appearance
- There aren’t enough women at the top to pull you up
- You will have to constantly promote yourself without looking like you are constantly promoting yourself
- You will feel alone
While it may be painful to read, these are realities women deal with every single day. Do any of them affect you?
- Have you ever been turned down for a roll because you appeared too young, or too old?
- Have you ever not been taken seriously because of your perceived, or actual age?
- Have you ever been treated differently because of the way you look?
- Have comments about your appearance in a professional setting ever made you uncomfortable?
- Have you struggled to find a female mentor?
- Have you ever experienced a lack of support from your female superiors?
- Have you ever felt uncomfortable talking about your success?
- Do you feel more comfortable promoting others than promoting yourself?
- Have you ever felt like no one understands what you’re going through?
Far too many of us will answer this powerful list of questions with the exact same answer. With yes, after yes, after yes.
While this event was about uncovering truths and facts that affect nearly all professional women, it wasn’t about complaining. Boylan made sure the women of The Fringe Network were prepped and ready for action.
She explained that the best way to see a change in the world we experience as professional women, is to make the change ourselves. She pointed to small coalition groups as a powerful form of action, and coached the group on focusing on one feasible goal at a time.
One of the most powerful parts of this event was an activity that helped break down individual walls, and bring The Fringe Network women together for a common purpose. Boylan broke the crowd into small groups and had each person write down their list of top professional challenges. Groups then shared each list and found commonalities to present with the entire room.
After each group had shared their most common challenge, the room was left with 5-7 challenges as top priority action items for The Fringe Network to tackle.
The Fringe Network is still collecting additional data on challenges professional women face in McHenry County. You can contribute to the analysis by filling out this quick one minute survey.
This first-ever Fringe Network event wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible Emily Lonigro Boylan, intro speaker Julie Ostrow, event space host Mixin Mingle, and all the women from The Fringe Network who came to the table ready to grow.
Interested in joining The Fringe Network? Check out what we’re all about.