By Alex Robinson
Working women of Queens came to Flushing last week to tackle the challenges of workplace inequality.
Job seekers poured through the Center for the Women of New York’s 27th annual conference at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel last Friday in search of new opportunities.
“A lot of women are lost in their ideas of what they can do,” said Ann Jawin, the center’s founder and chairwoman, during a panel discussion moderated by TimesLedger Newspaper Editor Roz Liston that kicked off the conference.
The Center for the Women of New York is a volunteer-run nonprofit that advocates for women’s rights and serves as a resource center.
Panelists at Friday’s event described their own career paths and told job seekers how they became leaders in their fields.
Nancy Chen-Baldwin, who came to this country at the age of 14 from Taiwan, worked in a number of managerial roles before she became the director of the engineering department at Northrop-Grumman . She said having strong female mentors to guide her along the way and build up her confidence was critical to her accomplishments.
“I was very fortunate to have three or four mentors,” she said. “Self-confidence is what you need to be successful in the corporate world.”
After she left her job as director, she started her own coaching company to help people develop their careers.
State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows), for her part, was born in Israel before her family moved to the United States. She grew up in Fresh Meadows and had a passion for public service from a young age. She started working as a scheduler in a government office before quickly rising through the ranks to become Assemblyman Brian Kavanaugh’s (D-Manhattan) chief of staff by the age of 23. She was elected to the state Legislature in 2012, when she was just 26 and became the youngest woman serving in the governing body.
Rozic trumpeted various bills she has introduced to strive for gender equality in the work place. She stressed the importance of the Women’s Equality Act, a 10-point piece of legislation that would codify Roe vs. Wade in the state. The bill has stalled in the state Senate, which has been controlled by a coalition of Republicans and a breakaway group of Democrats called the Independent Democratic Conference.
“There are so many issues we can tackle,” said Rozic, who encouraged attendees to get involved in the political arena to push for women’s rights.
Some of Rozic’s male colleagues, Assemblymen Ron Kim (D-Flushing) and Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) attended the panel to express their support for greater equality for women and the Women’s Equality Act.
“People think we have equality and everyone has fair chance, but that is not the case,” Kim said. “We need full equality for our women.”
A number of corporations, government agencies and educational organizations attended the conference’s job fair, which was held after the panel. The Center for Women of New York also conducted workshops to help job seekers find new opportunities and overcome barriers in the workplace.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobi[email protected]cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.