The Daily Gamecock

Women LEAD gives USC women place to grow

<p>Parker Massignan, third-year international business and economics student and vice president of Women LEAD, speaks during a meeting.</p>

Parker Massignan, third-year international business and economics student and vice president of Women LEAD, speaks during a meeting.

Every spring, a group called Women LEAD holds discussions on topics including the history of feminism and professionalism in the workplace relating to women.

Through these discussions, Women LEAD seeks to develop leadership skills and discuss challenges women face in academic, social and professional realms.

These discussions are led by the organization's executive team and occur over a six-week span beginning Feb. 17, President Hanna Mathews said. Members of Women LEAD must attend five of the six discussions to complete the program.

“We're not just going over one thing because, I think, to be a leader, and especially to be a female leader, there are a lot of things that go into it,” Mathews, a third-year marketing student, said.

Alongside various topics, these discussions come from a place of personal experience, Mathews said.

The leadership-oriented group extended its focus since the pandemic, Emmeline Basco, the event planner for Women LEAD, said. 

“We decided to emphasize the connections that fellows would make with one another, because it really felt like that was what this campus is missing, right now, is freshmen having a hard time getting to know people who are in their major,” Basco, a second-year political science student, said.

Katherine Palmer, a second-year psychology student, joined the club this semester after applying in the fall.

“A pretty important part of this semester is just to try and get more involved on campus, and I would say that it is pretty unique in the sense that it's all, like, women and all women-led,” Palmer said.

Palmer said Women LEAD’s discussions reaffirm the experiences she’s had as a woman professional.   

“It's just such a great thing I've never had,” Palmer said. “It makes you feel like you're not alone. And sometimes I think it is quite easy, especially women that are high achieving and all in positions of leadership, it is easy to feel quite alone sometimes.”

These sessions lead to a close sense of community in the organization, vice president Parker Massignan said. 

Massignan, a third-year international business and economics student, said she still has classes with someone she went through Women LEAD with her freshman year.

“I think [the smaller size] kind of encourages the girls who maybe wouldn't have said anything and maybe would have blended in the background in the past to be a little bit more involved, and it's cool seeing what motivates them,” Massignan said.

Women LEAD is also involved in statewide philanthropy. The group recently raised about $2,000 for the Homeless Period Project, which provides menstrual products for homeless people in South Carolina, Mathews said. This is up from $250 raised last year.

Women LEAD is also working to raise its involvement with other groups, Massignan said. Some groups Women LEAD have collaborated with include Planned Parenthood and Greek organizations, Massignan said. The group is also planning a professional attire-focused event through Carolina Closet, Basco said.

“Doing things outside of the club that are still helping each other and still helping us grow have been really great opportunities,” Palmer said.