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Women at Work: Insights From The Trenches

An SPU student begins teaching at a local school “Marriage, children, career, calling, and being a woman of God: How do you balance it all?”

That was the question at the heart of “Women and Work,” a panel presentation led by a trio of SPU alumnae taking part in SpringBoard, SPU’s vocational event series.


The brainchild of Jacqui Smith-Bates, director of SPU’s Career Development Center (CDC), “Women and Work” drew 35 SPU students and several staff and faculty members — all women.


Smith-Bates got the idea for the panel after seeing the success of a program CDC offered in May 2007 called “Slipping in Your Stilettos,” which covered the importance for women of good etiquette in business. “These two programs are the first we’ve done on a gender specific topic,” said Smith-Bates, “and they seem to be meeting a need for students.”


Panelists Susan Gillespie ’01, director of human resources at Swedish Physicians; Rebekah Rice ’96, SPU philosophy professor, and Amity Lumper ’00, senior consultant for Cascadia Consulting Group, shared from their life experiences juggling college, marriage, career, and kids. Dr. Denise Daniels, associate professor of management in the School of Business and Economics, moderated the panel.


Though nary a man was present (and understandably so), the presentation would have benefited male students too. For it offered valuable advice on getting the most out of a Christian university, making strides in the workplace, and keeping Christian marriages balanced in the 21st century — especially when traditional gender roles have been upended and couples often must work considerably harder and rest considerably less than their parents.


One significant takeaway was the exhortation for students to make the most of their time at Seattle Pacific. “This is the time to explore, said Rice. “Take a class just because it sounds interesting.” With a grin, she added, “Take the class that your parents might not want you to take.”


Another excellent piece of advice involved the extreme importance of choosing the right husband. “I don’t think we can understate selection,” said Lumper, and the others voiced their agreement. “Pick the right mate. Then figure out what you like to do; and talk it over ahead of time.”


Gillespie iterated the importance of having a good support structure in place for contingencies, such as when kids get sick. “Women are amazing creatures,” she said. “With the right support structure, we can have it all.”

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