Investing in women in business

Women in Business logo

By Elisabeth Schnebele
In March 2018, Cindy Yang was a first-year student walking the halls of the University of Washington Bothell. By perhaps fateful coincidence, she stumbled upon an event hosted by Women in Business. It was a celebration in honor of International Women’s Day. 

“Immediately, I knew I wanted to be a part of this club,” said Yang. “I went right up to the president, introduced myself and asked how I could help.” 

Three years later and Yang is now WiB’s president. This last year, she also added 100 new members to the club, despite the campus being in remote operations. 

“Cindy Yang’s energy, creative talent and inclusive leadership style helped empower the whole WiB team to thrive in their mission, providing a vibrant forum for UW Bothell students to stay connected in meaningful ways even during the pandemic,” said Carol Anderson Shaw, adjunct professor in the School of Business and faculty adviser of WiB. 

Breaking down barriers 

Cindy Yang

Cindy Yang

Dustin Mara photo

Women in Business aims to promote, empower and support women to become strong leaders in order to foster a more gender-equal corporate culture. 

“As a first-generation student, it’s really impactful when I get to see people I can relate to being successful in their careers,” said Yang. “That’s why Women in Business is so special to me. I am able to showcase women excelling in their industry on campus.” 

Theodora Sofowora, a third-year student and WiB’s officer of public relations, finds the same value in the club. “Having women who are killing it in their respective business-related industries come and share their stories inspires me to want to achieve more,” she said. 

“It is also a great way to learn about company culture,” she said, “and to learn how as a woman of color you can take up space and achieve more than the structures set in place want you to achieve.” 

Beyond college classrooms 

Theodora Sofowora

Theodora Sofowora

Dustin Mara photo

In order to pivot in a fully virtual landscape, WiB started an online series called Empower Hour where students can meet and hear from successful career women through video conferences. Sofowora said the #EmpowerHour series has been her favorite event the club has hosted. 

“I truly enjoyed this series because a majority of our guests were women of color who gave their honest perspective of what it is like either running their own business, working within big corporations or just graduating and starting their own professional future,” said Sofowora. 

“The #EmpowerHour series truly did that. It empowered all of our members to see beyond college and to actually start envisioning their futures.” 

Value fosters engagement 

Last month, WiB hosted an online workshop with LinkedIn. But as Yang explained, with the shift to remote learning, it can be challenging to motivate people to add yet another video conference to their day. 

“We had to think of a way to offer attendees something they wouldn’t be able to get by Googling or watching a YouTube video,” she said. “It had to be something of value in order to get people to engage.” 

Yang had the idea of having someone from LinkedIn do reviews and critiques of the attendees’ profiles during the workshop. She was able to get in touch with Emmeline Vu, a product marketing manager at LinkedIn who was willing to give individual feedback to students who participated in the event. 

“By offering a live profile critique session, we were able to offer something students couldn’t get from a video. In the process, we learned from one another on what works and what doesn’t,” Yang said. “For people nearing graduation and entering the job market, this kind of feedback is extremely valuable.” 

Making an impact 

For Yang, the most rewarding part of being in and leading Women in Business is witnessing the success members gain through involvement. 

Sofowora, for one, said the club has provided her the opportunity to take what she has learned as a student and apply it as the leader of an organization. 

“I am able to use the business knowledge I gain in class to enhance the development of Women in Business,” she said. “All the tips that I learn from my marketing class, I try to utilize in the club’s campaigns. Similarly, the knowledge I gain in my classes on data and human interactions I apply to my role as an officer. 

“The club has given me the opportunity to always learn and to always grow the knowledge that I am receiving.” 

Looking forward, Yang knows the club will continue to not just make an impact on students but also make a difference off campus. 

“I am so excited for the future of Women in Business,” she said “and I hope the club has empowered more women at UW Bothell to make an impact in their community. 

“My wish is for all women to see that it’s possible to thrive in any field that they choose.” 




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