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25th Annual Women’s Economic Opportunity Conference

by Jillian Scannell

Vermont Works for Women promotes economic justice by advancing gender equity.

By: Elaine Ezerins, VWW Communications and Marketing Manager

Janet Yellen speaking at the Women's Economic Opportunity Conference

On Saturday, October 1, Vermont Works for Women staff members Paige Ruffner and Missy Mackin presented at the 25th annual Women’s Economic Opportunity Conference (WEOC). WEOC is hosted by Sen. Patrick Leahy at the Vermont Technical College campus of Vermont State University. Each year this event brings together hundreds of Vermonters for a full day of workshops and presentations on how to navigate workplaces, start and grow businesses, and succeed in a modern economy.

Following Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen’s opening remarks concerning the persistent inequities in American women’s participation in the workforce, pay equity, and health, attendees selected a workshop or presentation to participate in for the morning. Paige, VWW’s Employment and Career Services Program Manager, presented her workshop, Creating a Mindset for Professional Growth, to 26 women, several sought her out afterward to talk about how impactful it had been for them. Some shared that while they were familiar with the topics of growth mindset, giving and receiving feedback, and setting SMART goals, the workshop offered additional strategies and practices such as visualizing and naming their fixed mindset persona, and embracing the power of the “yet.”

Women pose in front of a tractor at the Women's Economic Opportunity Conference

Missy, VWW’s Trailblazers Program Manager, joined women from the Vermont Agency of Transportation and CVOEO Weatherization teams at hands-on outdoor exhibits where participants could learn about home heating audits, try spraying insulation into portable walls, and even drive an excavator, snowplow truck, or backhoe. For many, it was their first experience learning about non-traditional careers for women; one attendee who said, “Oh, I couldn’t drive those machines… although I did drive tractors when I was a girl…” took a bit of convincing, but then drove every piece of heavy machinery available, gaining a whole new perspective.

Thank you to Senator Leahy for his continued commitment to supporting women’s economic opportunity in Vermont.