Courtesy of the Women in Management Club

On Saturday, the Yale School of Management hosted Fempire: Women as the Main Character, a colloquium that brought together over 130 attendees.

Fempire was last organized by the School of Management’s Women in Management Club, or WIM, in 2019, and returned this year after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s colloquium was centered around the theme of “Women as a Main Character,” and it featured breakout sessions on topics like Imposter Syndrome, Mentorship and Sponsorship, Navigating a Male Dominated Field and Factoring Your Biological Clock Into Your Life and Career. The event also featured a keynote address from Valentina Antill SOM ’94, global head of Cross-Border and Public Sector Solutions at Citigroup. The colloquium followed a hybrid model in which speakers were virtual, but members of the Yale community gathered together in Evans Hall to listen.

“Many business schools have focused on conferences about Women and COVID-19 because of the constraint on care,” Fempire Committee Co-Chair Anika Patel SOM ’22 told the News. “While we also address the pandemic, we wanted to create an event that empowered the next generation of women to take whatever they are given.”

In addition to Patel, this year’s event was organized by Fempire Committee Co-Chair Neha Singh SOM ’22 and WIM Co-Presidents Elizabeth Varughese SOM ’22 and Faye Feng SOM ’22.

In her keynote address, Antill discussed struggles in her professional life, including the dissolution of her group at Citigroup and a difficult exam, as well as struggles in her personal life with divorce, custody battles and health issues. She spoke to attendees about how she managed to deal with professional and personal struggles in tandem. 

“Behave as you, but see yourself as the person you want to be,” Antill said to attendees. “Take baby steps and don’t despair.”

This discussion of professional and personal life circumstances was a common thread throughout the event. 

After the keynote speech, attendees had the opportunity to choose between three rooms for two different breakout sessions. In one of the rooms, titled “Factoring Your Biological Clock Into Your Life and Career,” Leslie Feingerts, the founder and CEO of Fertility Forward, a company that offers family planning services, discussed her own difficult journey to motherhood in her thirties while also balancing a career. Interspersed through her story were lessons for attendees about staying healthy and possible timelines for having multiple children. 

Supporting the professional and personal aspects of being a woman in management is a core goal of WIM, Varughese said.

“We aim to empower women both personally and professionally by facilitating the entire part of the journey from prospective students to current students to alumni,” Varughese said. 

WIM also hosts an event titled the “Young Women’s Leadership Conference” every year for high school students.

Of the 16 speakers, 11 had attended Yale in some form, and 10 were SOM alumni. SOM professors moderated discussions in some of the breakout rooms. 

Varughese added that Fempire was one of the first hybrid events at SOM since the pandemic. Singh said this hybrid model is an important aspect of the event, because organizers wanted the chance to bring the Yale community together despite pandemic restrictions.

“We wanted to inspire women and give them more information than they started with about what other women have done,” Patel said. “We want speakers to feel connected to the school again and to the students especially because a lot of them have not been able to attend [the event] in person.”

Varughese added that she hopes the success of this hybrid event means other SOM events will soon be in person.

Fempire was sponsored by MoroccanOil, EY-Parthenon, Amphenol and the Yale SOM Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Correction, March 7: A previous version of this article said the total number of attendees was 200 when this was the number of registrees. The article has been updated to reflect the correct number of attendees: 130. The article also said Fempire started in 2019, but it has been corrected to say it last occurred in 2019. Finally, the story stated that there were 17 speakers at the event. There were 16 speakers with one speaker speaking twice.

Correction, March 27: A previous version of this article said the event was sponsored by Anthenol. It has been updated to say Amphenol.