WRITTEN BY Cameron Fox
UT’s Haslam College of Business holds high prestige, being ranked as one of the top thirty undergraduate business programs among public universities, according to US News & World Report.
However, the school’s demographics skew overwhelmingly male. As of the most recent data provided by the university, 65% of students are male while only 35% are female. Because of this, Haslam lacked a setting where female business students could come together and engage in meaningful conversation while also working towards their business and entrepreneurial goals.
This is how Taylor Boyer, senior, founder and president of Women of Haslam, initially came up with the idea for the organization.
“I thought of the idea for Women of Haslam my sophomore year while studying abroad in London with the Haslam College of Business. I realized UT needed an organization where women from all majors could come together to experience entrepreneurship and leadership in an educational, business-focused environment,” Boyer said.
“No matter our major or future endeavors, we will all be charged at one time or another with business responsibilities. We will face business decisions and will need discernment to best know how to proceed.”
Founded in the fall of 2019, Women of Haslam brings collegiate members together with academic and community business women from around Knoxville to provide them with networking opportunities, knowledge, experience and resources.
Ashleigh Skipper, sophomore finance major, shared her reasons for joining Women of Haslam.
“As a charter member of Women of Haslam, I joined the organization with high hopes of its goals of professional connections and a welcoming environment to grow in business-related skills. Taylor, Sarah and the rest of the exec. board truly go above and beyond to make this organization as great a resource as it can be,” Skipper said.
Women of Haslam aims to provide its members with an engaging experience that will allow them to take the skills they have acquired from being in the organization into their future careers, no matter what fields they end up in.
“As our mission states, our goal is to introduce women in all professions to the applicable principles of business, entrepreneurship and leadership” Boyer said.
Some of the events and programs members can participate in include bi-weekly chapter meetings on Wednesday nights, career development workshops, guest speaker lectures and events benefiting the organization’s philanthropy partner, Junior Achievement of East Tennessee.
There are also presentations on pertinent topics such as diversity and inclusion, women in history and the suffrage movement and panels. Further, while members work hard throughout the school year to network and strengthen their skills, there are also opportunities for fun and relaxation like the workout and self-care night held virtually over Zoom earlier in the semester.
Women of Haslam garnered widespread praise from its members and the university and was fortunate enough to be awarded Haslam’s Organization of the Year for the 2019-2020 school year.
Additionally, Women of Haslam was one of four recipients of the Center for Student Engagement’s New Student Organization award. They have been able to expand their membership since its founding, welcoming new groups of driven and empowered women to their ranks.
Grace Caldwell, sophomore marketing major, explained the appeal of the organization.
“Women of Haslam connects me with other like-minded individuals who are in the same college as me. Further than that, I feel that this is a welcoming group and any time I make a friend in Haslam, I always introduce her to Women of Haslam first as an introduction to the college and networking,” Caldwell said.
The organization strives to create an environment where its members can thrive, no matter their area of study, and encourage members in different majors to connect with one another. Members had lots to say about the relationships they have been able to form with others in the organization.
Molly Waugh, sophomore business administration exploratory major, emphasized the importance of the organization as a community.
“I also love that Women of Haslam is a group of women who strive to improve our professional skills and become better leaders while forming a community with one another,” Waugh said.
Boyer spoke about her hopes for the organization, and why she ultimately feels Women of Haslam is great for female business students.
“Women of Haslam is here to make a positive impact on our members, the entire UT community and the greater Knoxville area. As we grow and move on from UT, my hope is that all our future communities will be the beneficiaries of what we learn here together” Boyer said.