New Forté Chapter At Bates Welcomes More Women Leaders

Elizabeth Crawford

“What do you think of when I say the word business?” asked Adama Diaby ‘22 to a group of Bates women on Wednesday, January 29th. “Is it a bunch of white men sitting around in suits? If that’s it, that’s okay, but we are here to change that.”
Led by Diaby and her fellow student ambassadors Mamta Saraogi ‘21, Sophie Matt ‘22, Ayano Nakamura ‘23, and Maya Church ‘20 (who was absent due to a prior commitment), a group of around 30 women sat together to discuss what it means to be a woman in a “man’s world,” and how joining the Forté chapter at Bates would best prepare them when the time comes to step off of Bobcat territory. A woman in the business world is–whether we would like to admit it or not–at a disadvantage. As Hoi Ning Ngai from Purposeful Work articulates, “I know that glass ceilings continue to exist for women and other underrepresented groups…particularly those operating in the business world. I also know that the ability of women to find resources, networks, mentors, and community is directly related to their ability to succeed and thrive.”
What exactly is Forté? According to the ambassadors, it is an organization designed to “change the balance of power in the workplace” for women in or looking to enter the field of business. Within the Bates chapter, both Bates and other Forté alumni can provide connections for internships, job shadows, and a road map to opportunities. With the Bates membership to the Forté Foundation, funded by fellow Bates alumna and Forte advocate Sarah Myers McGinty, this chapter can be a way to “help women change their career trajectories, earning power, and their lives.” Through Forté, women on campus can be involved in fostering their business skills within a community of women, no longer feeling the pressure from their male peers to “measure up.” Matt stressed the need for more female coalition within business fields, as she remarked that she was one of the few active women in the Bates Investment Club. Being outnumbered can often be intimidating, and this organization is meant to address this discrepancy.
In this new Forté chapter, the ambassadors are seeking to create a community of female peers and connections. They emphasize that future Bates business women need a space to be heard, as many struggle with being out-voiced in the business environment. Above all else, the goal is to educate and learn from workshops and networks, as some struggle to feel comfortable asking important questions in male-dominated environments. Casual networking, interviewing lessons and strategies, LinkedIn workshops, and continuous support for women in economics and STEM majors are priorities for this organization.
Lead ambassador Mamta Saraogi states, “If there’s something that’s not good, or not there, we need to change.” Simply said, the existence of an organization on campus like Forté can help to address gender equity concerns. Women at Bates are at an even greater disadvantage, coming from a smaller school with a smaller alumni network in a location where fewer corporate recruiters visit. Women looking into business fields after Bates need connections and networks — this chapter will allow members to bridge the gap together, gaining critical skills and building important relationships in the process. Sarogoi added, “Being a woman at a liberal arts college, lots of people think we don’t have the skills we need. We need more preparation to widen this scope that we are seen through.”
Hopefully, this Forté chapter will help the women of Bates be better represented in the business field. Rising Stars, Forté’s “exclusive career accelerator for undergraduate women” is free for students to access. This organization is looking to assist “successful women willing to push the status quo and existing barriers.” The Bates chapter works with Forté to create #MoreWomenLeaders and all are welcome, no matter what area of business is of intrigue.