By Sara Hinds

At tea time, everyone agreed, this International Women’s Day event was supportive and freeing, all at once. 

Senior Maci McCarter attended the event as a Doane brand ambassador, taking photos for the school’s social media account, but left having formed deeper relationships with female faculty, staff and students and feeling inspired by the stories she heard.

“I felt so blessed to have heard their stories, and felt so seen as a young woman through them,” McCarter said. 

A panel of 10 female staff and faculty from across the university shared their career journeys, and specifically how gender influenced it, for worse or for better.

Jaden Hilkemann and her mom
"I actually wasn't able to take any pictures during the event but I have one picture of my mom and I. I invited my mom because she was a woman who inspired and empowered me in all aspects of my life as a young woman." - Jaden Hilkemann

“In the moments where stories of abuse or mistreatment were shared, the room did not turn a blind eye in hopes that a harsher topic would soon be over, but rather you could feel the electrical connection between everyone in the room grow in support of said speaker overcoming such challenges,” McCarter said of the open and supportive environment. “It was a beautiful thing to witness, and I’m glad I chose to attend this event.”

Jaden Hilkemann ’23, Campus Advocacy, Prevention, and Education (CAPE) Project Director, organized the event. She appreciated the authenticity and vulnerability the panelists showed. 

I was so moved by each woman and their experiences,” Hilkemann said. “While I knew it would be an inspiring event, it truly exceeded my expectations and I think the people who attended felt very similarly.”

The event emulated what it truly means to be a woman: balancing the heavy and hard with the softness and support from a community of other women. Women still deal with gender-based hurdles in the workplace like sexism, inequality and workplace harassment, Hilkemann said. 

“But more importantly I hope that our women attendees and panelists recognized that there is power in opening up to each other, in reaching out and learning from the women closest to us,” Hilkemann said.