WIBW: The Love Story Behind the Brooklyn Bridge

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, which feels like the right time for a love story. And when that love story features a remarkable woman who taught herself civil engineering in order to complete the construction of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, it only seems right that we share it for this week’s Women in Business Wednesday!

This ForbesWomen profile tells the story of Emily Warren Roebling, her husband Washington Roebling, and the product of their love — the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a story rich with history, tragedy, inspiration, and of course, love.

It was two young lovers who eventually enabled the bridge to be completed, and the love of one woman, in particular, who devoted herself to finishing the project after her husband fell ill.

Read the whole thing and share it with your valentine! Here’s to all the women out there leading with love, just like Emily Warren Roebling!

Brooklyn Bridge at night

WIBW: Revisiting Rosa Parks

How much do you really know about Rosa Parks? Dolly Chugh is a contributor to Forbes who writes about race, gender, diversity, and inclusion, and her latest post – published on what have been Rosa Parks’ 106th birthday – reveals some fascinating truths about the story most of us (think we) know…

Photo: Associated Press

According to common knowledge, “Rosa Parks was an elderly black seamstress on her way home from work in 1955, who declined to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama because her feet were tired. This spontaneous action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the civil rights movement, giving this usually docile woman an accidental place in history.”

But in Parks’ own words:

“I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day … No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

Read more of the truth about Rosa Parks – and why it matters for women in business today – here.

Women of Excellence Nominations Due January 29!


If you’ve been thinking about nominating someone for a 2019 Women of Excellence Award, now is the time to do it!

The WBC’s Women of Excellence Awards honor a select group of women whose personal and professional character, conduct, service, leadership and achievements have contributed positively to the Capital Region. To get a better understanding of what these awards mean to the women who receive them, jump back to this post from 2015 WOE – Emerging Professional award recipient Kelsey Carr.

Our driving force in the WBC is to inspire excellence together. Help us recognize the women in the Capital Region who bring these words to life with their personal and professional contributions to our community!

Nominations must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday, January 29, 2019. Click here to submit yours, and save the date for the Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon on May 30, 2019 at the Albany Marriott.

Announcing the 2018 Women of Excellence

WOE header

We are thrilled to announce the recipients of our 2018 Women of Excellence Awards! Congratulation to this year’s honorees:

Distinguished Career
Nancy Martin

Excellence in the Professions
Gretchel Hathaway, Ph.D.
Union College

Excellence in Management
CMSgt Amy Giaquinto
New York National Guard

Excellence in Business Development
Rayn Boncie
Things of My Very Own, Inc.

Excellence in Business
Christina Wolfe Snyder
Wolfes Cleaning Services at The Falls

Emerging Professional
Gretchen Meyer
Gretchen Meyer Financial

These six amazing women will be honored at the 27th annual Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon on Thursday, May 31, 2018. Click here to reserve your tickets now.

Read more about the Women of Excellence selection process in last month’s blog post featuring Kelsey Carr, a 2015 Woman of Excellence and current co-chair of the Women’s Business Council’s Women of Excellence Committee. Stay tuned to the WBC Voice Blog to learn more about the women joining the prestigious ranks of the Chamber’s Women of Excellence this year!

Then & Now: The Evolution of the Sports Bra

Have you ever thought about what life was like for active women before the invention of the sports bra? I, personally, took the thing for granted, until I saw ESPN’s mini-documentary on the subject earlier this year.

If you missed it, it’s worth 10 minutes of your time to watch: http://www.espn.com/espnw/video/16986423/

You’ll hear from three women – Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller and Polly Smith – about how they came up with the idea for the Jogbra. How before this invention, lots of women were simply didn’t participate in sports because it was either too uncomfortable or too embarrassing for them.

You’ll learn how the Jogbra came into popularity on the heels of Title IX, a piece of legislation widely considered to have had “a greater impact on American women’s sports than any other development in American history.” And how the sports bra just might be the next most important development for women in sports after that.

Pretty wild when you stop and think about it, right?!

The sports bra has been through quite an evolution since the Jogbra (just watch the ESPN video to the end to see what I mean). Nowadays, most women know the value of a good sports bra. And hopefully no girl is discouraged from athletic endeavors because she doesn’t have the right support.


Today, a sports bra ad from Under Armor reminds the world that women are unstoppable. And it sure doesn’t hurt to feel comfortable and supported while you’re taking on the world. So kudos to the innovative ladies who invented the Jogbra. They saw a problem that was limiting women’s potential, and they invented a solution for us all. 40 years later, it’s nice to see how far we’ve come.

Tracking the trends in ‘blue’ vs. ‘pink’-collar jobs

As the Women’s Business Council celebrates 30 years of empowering women in business at every level, we’ve been taking a look back at how far we’ve come and thinking about what’s in store for the future.

When it comes to trends in jobs, it looks like things have changed quite a bit in the last 30 years. According to a recent article in the New York Times, lots of jobs predominantly done by men (like machine operator or welder, for example) have been disappearing, while occupations that employ mostly women are quickly growing.

If you take a look at the graphic in that NYT article, you’ll see a depiction of how the fastest-growing jobs, as predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are predominantly done by women, with only a few exceptions. Jobs in the healthcare industry in particular, from home health aides to nurse practitioners, are more than 80% female and are projected to grow significantly in the years ahead.

What seems crazy to me as a casual observer is that when men who enter these fields, which the story refers to as “pink-collar” occupations, they are paid more and promoted faster than women. Sociologically speaking, this trend is referred to as the “glass escalator.”

Perhaps that’s why this chart reflecting data from the Census Bureau for Albany, NY shows higher average salaries for men in common jobs including those most likely dominated by women:


On the bright side, I suppose, the NYT article notes that women enter into male-dominated fields more than men enter female-dominated fields. And those male-dominated fields tend to be well-paid. Yet on the flip side, other studies point to drops in pay, negative perceptions, and more health problems as women take over male-dominated roles.

So where does that leave us? I’d say we still have room to grow when it comes to promoting women in the workplace. But don’t take my word for it…

Join us for our next WBC program, The Evolution of Women in Business, on February 14 at The Desmond Hotel & Conference Center. Hear from a panel of past Women of Excellence Award recipients on how they predict women in the workplace will be propelled toward advancement in the future.

How Three Letters Empowered Recognition of My Full Potential

Guest post by Kelsey Carr, Project Manager/Project Engineer for The Chazen Companies and co-chair of the WBC Women of Excellence Nomination Committee

At the first WBC Steering Committee meeting of 2017, Vice Chair Jackie Sheffer asked a series of tough questions, to which each member answered by physically moving to a corner representing strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree. With Question 1, Does the WBC have the ability to change the world?, I found myself standing solo by the supersized post-it marked strongly agree, while the majority agreed. My logic was simple: Yes, the WBC can change the world because it has and continues to change my world.

Flashback to mid 2014, I was a shy, focused, dedicated, (did I mention shy?), project engineer, celebrating seven years at the only “real world” job I’d ever known. Having entered the workforce in 2008, at the start of the Great Recession, I was lucky to: 1) have a job 2) love my job and 3) be able to say I’ve had amazing mentors at Chazen for my entire career thus far. Little did I know that my whole world was about to change.

woe-kcarr-remarksThat winter, Chazen would nominate me for the Women of Excellence – Emerging Professional Award, which I would receive the following spring. In a whirlwind, I was introduced to my six fellow recipients, quietly listening to their incredible life stories and absorbing every word like a sponge. I would meet Ashley Jeffrey Bouck, our current WBC Chair and recipient of this award the previous year, who would act as my mentor through the process. Ashley, a young woman who inspires girls each and every day through Girls Inc., would quickly inspire me. She told me to use this opportunity to promote change for other young professionals and urged me to use my remarks at the luncheon to send a message. Finding the courage from deep within to take this advice, I discussed the societal expectations I had to overcome as a woman, an engineer, a millennial, and an advocate for hunger relief programs. I challenged the 600 person audience to close the gender gap, create opportunity, and reconsider these stigmas. In three minutes, I had gone miles outside of my comfort zone and there was no going back.

It took three letters, WOE, to fill a void that I didn’t realize was missing. It took three letters, and a whole network of incredible women, to leave me empowered to recognize both my worth and my potential. I spent the next one and a half years of my life on a path of immense personal growth, which would lead to the easiest choice of my life, becoming involved with the WBC. As Co-Chair of the WOE nomination committee, my goal is to use everything I have learned to empower other women in our community. By nominating an individual for the 26th Annual Women of Excellence Awards, you have the ability to do the same. Together, we can change the world.

2015 Women of Excellence award recipients

Nominations must be received no later than 5 pm on Thursday, January 31st. Click here to download the nomination form.