International Women’s Day: A Message from Dean Kate Walsh

photo of dean kate walsh

To the women Cornellians far and wide, to those who continue to shatter glass ceilings and inspire the next generation of women leaders with their acts of persistence: we celebrate you this International Women’s Day.

Take a minute to hear from Dean Kate Walsh, the first woman dean of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration (SHA), who has advice for her younger self and the brilliant woman in the Cornell community:

“I would tell my younger self to trust my instincts, to be myself, to know I’m really competent—way more competent than I might feel at the moment, and that my career path may seem illogical, but will all make sense in the rear-view mirror. I abandoned an accounting career soon after obtaining my CPA license. But I always carried my accounting training with me, and it made me better at every job I’ve had since.

I would also tell myself to be patient and that my calling would reveal itself as I moved along and tried different types of work. I would advise my younger self that networking means nothing more than engaging professionally with others—getting to know your colleagues in and out of work, and perhaps working with them on an initiative important to your professional community.

If a young professional—female or male—works really hard and does a great job and still feels frustrated or not acknowledged for his or her contributions, then it’s time to find out why; it may be the job or organization is not the right fit and doesn’t enable one to thrive. If you’ve given it every chance, then move on.

Finally, I would tell myself to remember that while working so hard to live a life that brings the greatest meaning, to remember to be a great colleague and help others be successful. This doesn’t mean to do their work for them, which some women tend to do, but it does mean to be supportive and help out when someone is in a pinch—and to deliver as a team member.

One last thing: Negotiate those job offers! As women we tend not to ask for more and/or what we need, but that is precisely what we should do when accepting a position. I have never heard of a company pulling an offer because a young professional expressed interest in a position, expressed how excited he or she is to contribute to the team and wanted to check in about the value they expect to provide and its associated compensation. When you frame negotiations that way, you appear very impressive!

Every single one of our students impresses me each and every day. Our female students are so smart, hardworking and professional. My message to each one of them is: ‘You’ve got this!’”

– Kate Walsh, dean and E. M. Statler Professor

Read more inspiring quotes and advice in “Celebrating International Women’s Day: Faculty reflect on their careers and share their best advice,” located in our archives.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Dean Walsh. Your insight and advice is assuring about networking and encouraging regarding salary negotiation. The young women at the Hotel School are so fortunate to see you as the leader, role model and the supportive colleague that you have always been. For those of us a bit older, it’s simply inspiring.

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