Women’s leadership conference speaks on women’s strengths in the workforce

By Shannon Allen, @ShannonAllen_DE

The SIUC Society of Women Engineers and Real Talk, an organization that unites students from different backgrounds to emulate change, hosted its second annual “Stronger Together” Women’s Leadership Conference at the Student Center on Friday.

SIU women’s head basketball coach Cindy Stein spoke to the 200 people in attendance.

Stein started the conference with a motivational speech on how women in today’s society must go above and beyond to be successful.


“The stereotype is that for women to be successful, they have to be beautiful,” Stein said. “If you want to be a successful leader, you have to voice what that means to you.”

Stein said her family did not have the money to pay for college, so she applied for a basketball scholarship, which was brand new for women when Stein began her collegiate career in 1978.

She then talked about the qualities of being a leader, which included believing in yourself first and visualizing yourself as a successful person, especially as a woman.

“We want to show power,” Stein said. “It’s possible to look feminine while also looking strong.”

After Stein spoke, Laurie Landgraf, an alumna of SIU and a senior counsel for the Boeing Co., approached the podium and spoke about how women normally ask for permission to do things. Landgraf then offered the primarily female audience tips to success, including doing what one wants and labeling oneself.

“You have my permission to label yourself whatever you want,” Landgraf said.

The conference included three sessions, each 45 minutes long, in which university faculty spoke on different topics relevant to being successful in college, to women in particular. One lecture was “The Seven A’s To A Successful College Career,” which was delivered by Carly James, assistant director of student involvement at SIU.


James said attending class, always studying, acquainting yourself with your professors, actively participating in campus activities, applying for a job, asking for help and awarding yourself with fun are the top seven ways to be a successful college student.

James especially put emphasis on the importance of attending class.

“If you don’t go to class, you’ll fall behind in everything,” James said.

Other lectures included balancing a work-life as a woman in the 21st century, SIU women of information technology, how to portray yourself as a woman in college on social media and 11 others.

Shannon Allen can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ShannonAllen_DE