U.S.: More women coming through university, leadership programs - FreshFruitPortal.com

U.S.: More women coming through university, leadership programs

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U.S.: More women coming through university, leadership programs

The number of women coming through the U.S. Produce Marketing Association's (PMA) Career Pathways program focused on university students is on the uptick, according to a representative. 

A general session of the 2016 Women's Fresh Perspective Conference

Alicia Calhoun, vice president of Center for Growing Talent by PMA (CGTbyPMA), said interest had also been rising in the upcoming Women's Fresh Perspective Conference, which takes place in Florida next month.

The now-sold-out event, which is in its fifth year, was developed specifically for women in the produce and floral industry regardless of their career stage, with a mission to cultivate their potential.

Calhoun said the event came about after a need was identified for leadership development for women, and a multigenerational advisory group was established to bring insight as to what the event should entail in order to increase females' competencies in the industry.

"Interest is definitely rising," she told Fresh Fruit Portal, but added for intimacy reasons the PMA had decided not to increase event capacity above 200 attendees despite how quickly the event sells out.

"It is made up of general sessions and then concurrent workshop sessions, broken out into career tracks on three levels," she said.

She said the conference had two main benefits, one being the mentoring and networking, and another was the learning objectives from the sessions. 

"Our theme is 'Own It' this year, and having a theme that is so bold really does underscore the work we do," she said.

"The idea is to convey that women are extraordinary, and women in our industry can take our industry companies to another level.

"They think differently, they act differently, and it really gives the opportunity to help our industry members prospect and the businesses thrive."

Calhoun does not believe women in the produce industry face different challenges than women working in other areas, but said the produce sector was particularly male-dominated.

"We just haven’t had a lot of women in the industry over the years. But now we're starting to really see an increase in females that are interested in coming into our industry," she said.

"I oversee our Career Pathways program, which is our university-focused program. I’ve been at PMA almost 24 years and the number of females coming through has really increased.

"If you look back five or six years ago when all the research was really hot and heavy about the challenges of women in the workplace and how research showed that increasing female leadership roles does help your company excel, females in college are starting to grasp that concept and starting to see that this is a place they can be."

She added that "quite honestly, it's not a sexy industry overall" - at least from an outsider's perspective - which made it hard to attract males to work in the industry, let alone females.

"But I think we’re getting to a point now where the number of women is increasing and word is getting out. It’s long hours, but so are a lot of other industries. It's male-dominated, but so are lots of others," she said.

"It’s not probably know as a focus for women...and I think that’s changing with the different areas of focus within the businesses - social media, marketing, sales - and increasing leadership competencies of women overall helps put them in a position where their career can be advanced."

Photo: PMA


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