The annual symposium, held this year on May 29 at Chatham University, looked at barriers to career and workplace advancement such as appearance and communication styles. Led by a panel of female executives, the event provided insight on how women are overcoming personal and professional challenges to become leaders in their organizations.

“I hope these women realize the power to succeed lies within them,” said Janet Manuel, director of human resources for Coventry Health Care and president of the Pittsburgh Diversity Council. “I hope this symposium serves as the power to inspire them to overcome barriers.”
For women, and African-American women in particular, the key to getting ahead might not be as simple as how they dress or communicate.

According to a study by Catalyst, a nonprofit organization aimed at expanding opportunities for women in business, 37 percent of African-American women see their opportunities for advancement to senior management positions in their companies declining over time. Thirty-two percent of the women surveyed also said their White colleagues perceive them as underqualified.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure on women,” said Jackie Dixon, director of government relations for Giant Eagle. “I think we have to understand there is still discrimination against women in the workforce.”

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