‘A Conversation with Future Female Business Leaders’ gives space to share women’s perspectives and struggles


Photo by Isabella Veljacic

Participants of the 2-part seminar share the goals they have for their lives 5 years from now before sharing what obstacles they think they might face in achieving these goals.

Isabella Veljacic, Reporter

The California Lutheran University School of Management hosted its first women-only event in collaboration with the Women in Business Club. “A Conversation with Future Female Business Leaders” was a two-part seminar hosted by Director of Global Engagement and Diversity Mary Jo Shane with guest speaker Susan Van Vleet. 

According to Shane, the School of Management typically invites both men and women to these types of events, but for the Feb. 16 event, they wanted to focus on Cal Lutheran women’s perspectives and the struggles in the business world, as well as their experiences as women pursuing business degrees at Cal Lutheran. 

Van Vleet led the first part of the event with an exercise that had attendees close their eyes and envision themselves in their careers five years from now and what obstacles they see getting in the way of their goals. Participants shared their future career goals and what they could see themselves struggling with, such as self-doubt, imposter syndrome, perfectionism, stress and more.

Van Vleet founded the international consulting firm Susan Van Vleet Consultants, Inc. in 1979. She has previously held workshops for women pursuing their career goals around the world, including in Latin America. 

Van Vleet prompted discussions about the differences between men and women in business throughout the event.

“Studies have shown that women will not take a job that they do not feel they are qualified for because they feel they cannot do it perfectly, but men will take the job they are not qualified for and learn as they go,” Van Vleet said during the event. 

According to Van Vleet, women are conditioned to be perfect. She said an exercise that women can do when facing the struggle to be perfect is to write down on paper the expectations they have for themselves and ask themselves, “Can anyone really do this?”

“As women, we have a lot of self-doubt, especially in business and other huge careers that are dominated by men,” said Andrea Villasenor, co-president of Women in Business Club and a business administration major with an emphasis in finance.

As a business major, Villasenor said that in her finance classes, she is one of only two girls.

During the event, Van Vleet said Cal Lutheran is where women pursuing an education in business might feel more self-doubt because the faculty around them are mostly men.

The second part was led by Shane who asked attendees a series of questions about what things they like and what they think needs to be improved on in the School of Management. 

Feedback from attendees included the idea that Cal Lutheran should hire more women professors and faculty. Other areas that the group discussed for improvement were more equity training for professors, classes focusing on emotional intelligence and more woman-focused mentor programs. 

Shane said this event was successful because it gave women the space to share their own perspectives. 

Brissa Castaneda, co-president of the Women in Business club, said she and Villasenor started the Women in Business club in November of 2021 after deciding they wanted to create a club that would benefit women and supports them through their education in business at Cal Lutheran.

“Anyone looking to join the club should know that we will welcome you with open arms,” Villasenor said. “We celebrate each other’s successes while building up our goals for the future.”