Fisher holds inaugural Future Women in Business Summit
Fisher holds inaugural Future Women in Business Summit
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In celebration of Fisher’s proud history of educating business leaders and fostering a culture of diversity, the college recently hosted the first-ever Mary Helen Wolfe Chandler Future Women in Business Summit, which welcomed a group of 29 young women interested in business studies to Fisher’s campus.
Named for Mary Helen Wolfe Chandler, the college’s first recorded female graduate, the event brought together first-generation and underrepresented minority girls who were primarily rising high school seniors from across Ohio.
Samantha Reed, undergraduate recruitment coordinator at Fisher, said the program was a resounding success, adding that it was the first time Fisher has offered an event specifically for young women interested in pursuing a business degree.
“While we hope to recruit these students, the event also served as an outreach opportunity, allowing young women to learn more about the landscape of business today,” Reed said. “The day’s topics provided a glimpse of the skills needed in business and introduced the girls to all that’s available at Fisher and Ohio State for personal and professional development as leaders.”
The day-long summit consisted of a panel discussion that featured Fisher alumnae from a variety of specializations and industries, including marketing, logistics, consulting, accounting, management information systems, and operations. Companies represented included Nationwide, P&G, Schneider Downs, Faurecia, Accenture and Hope City House of Prayer.
Fisher MAcc alumna Janeen Smith-Hughes (MAcc ’16) delivered a keynote that addressed topics such as the gender pay gap, leadership styles and strategies for career success. Dr. Andrea Prud'homme, associate clinical professor in the Department of Management Sciences and associate director of the Center for Operational Excellence, conducted a faculty session in which she answered questions from attendees and described her pathway into the male-dominated field of business.
Additionally, the day consisted of a networking and etiquette lunch in which the young women were joined by Fisher alumnae, along with faculty members and current Fisher students. Deloitte, which sponsored the etiquette lunch, hosted a personal branding workshop later in the day.
The summit concluded with an overview of Fisher and a session focused on important steps for the college application process.
About Mary Helen Wolfe Chandler
Earning a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University Max M. Fisher College of Business is a significant accomplishment, and truly one of life’s milestones.
Completing that milestone in 1919 was even more significant, given that a college education wasn’t as accessible then as it is today. But a young woman earning a business degree in 1919 was a true breakthrough. Mary Helen Wolfe Chandler broke through that year, earning her bachelor’s degree in business administration, just three years after the college’s founding.
Born in 1898 to Joseph and Flora Purdy Wolfe, Mary grew up on a farm in Mercer County, Ohio, and attended a one-room schoolhouse through eighth grade. For high school, she traveled by horse and buggy to attend classes in Rockford, Ohio, until the family moved to town, which delighted Mary because it put school within walking distance.
Throughout Mary’s childhood, education was valued and encouraged for her and her three sisters. Although he didn’t attend college himself, Joseph Wolfe primarily worked as a farmer but also found employment as a penman, hand-lettering certificates and other important documents, and he wanted his daughters to experience the value of a college education. Mary and two of her sisters earned their degrees, and Maude, the second Wolfe daughter, married a farmer and did not attend college.
Throughout elementary school and high school, Mary excelled in math, and when the time came to begin college, she chose The Ohio State University. At barely 5 feet tall and shy by nature, Mary, like many of today’s incoming freshmen, found campus to be a rather large, intimidating place — a sharp contrast to her small-town experience. But Mary quickly adapted to her new environment, living off campus in Columbus with relatives to help reduce costs, and throwing herself in to her studies at what was then known as the College of Commerce and Journalism.
In selecting her major, Mary took a different academic path from her older sister, Mabel, and her younger sister, Marjorie. Mabel attended Wooster College and majored in education, eventually becoming a teacher in Rockford, the family’s home town. Marjorie attended Miami University (Ohio) and also studied education. Mary’s decision to major in the typically male-dominated business administration program also bucked a broader trend of many other young women of her day who often chose to major in education.
During her time at the college, Mary met fellow business major Willis Chandler, who left Ohio State in 1918, prior to completing his studies to join the United States Air Force. The couple married in 1920 and Willis would later attend law school in the evenings, never completing his degree, but he spent his career working in business.
After earning her bachelor’s degree and marrying Willis, Mary became a homemaker, focusing her attention on the couple’s three children: Bob, born in 1921; Barbara, born in 1925; and Marilyn, born in 1926.
The family moved around frequently as the children were growing up, living in Cincinnati, Indianapolis and mostly in Cleveland. Later, Mary and Willis would move to Florida, where they stayed until 1976 when Willis died. That same year, Mary moved to Michigan to be closer daughter Marilyn and her husband.
Although Mary never worked outside the home, she was very proud of her Ohio State degree and always stressed the importance of education for all members of her family, said Mary’s daughter Marilyn Chandler Brown. She was an avid reader and maintained an interest in current affairs, and she was a frequent player of the card game bridge. Throughout her adult life, Mary used her math and business skills to manage the family’s bookkeeping.
Despite her petite stature and shy nature, Mary stuck to her convictions. She often would tell her children about an experience she had as a student with an Ohio State mathematics professor.
Mary had been taking calculus and was doing very well in the course. When the course ended, Mary believed she deserved an A, given her strong performance throughout the term. However, the professor apparently felt differently, awarding Mary a B. When she questioned the professor about the lower grade, he quipped that he’d run out As by the time he got to Mary’s name on the class roster. Years later, Mary still held firm in her belief that she deserved the higher grade.
Mary passed away in 1989, just a few months shy of her 91st birthday.
Mary and Willis Chandler are survived by two of their three children, Bob and Marilyn, along with nine grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. Mary's legacy lives on in the name of her great-granddaughter, Helen Wolfe Chandler.
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