March 20, 2017 A proud history of supporting women in business

Forte Fellows

WolfeFisher College of Business has proudly fostered a diverse, supportive and inclusive learning environment since the college’s earliest days, when Mary Helen Wolfe studied business at what was then known as the College of Commerce and Journalism at Ohio State.

Wolfe, who graduated in 1919, became the first recorded female graduate of the college, and nearly 100 years later, Fisher continues to provide an enriching educational experience for women seeking a degree from a top-ranked business college. 

Forté Fellows Program

Forte Fellows

Since 2014, Fisher has served as a school sponsor of the Forté Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to launching “women into fulfilling, significant careers through access to business education, opportunities, and a community of successful women.” 

Established in 2001, the foundation is a consortium of world-class business schools and leading companies dedicated to increasing the number of women pursuing business studies and, ultimately, the number of women advancing to the C-suite level within corporations. The Forté Fellows Program aims to increase the number of women applying to MBA programs by providing fellowships to smart, ambitious female MBA students. 

Forté hosts events focused on the professional and career development of prospective female MBA candidates, current students and alumni. Female students at Fisher can become members of the Forté Foundation and participate in its yearly leadership conference, search its job center and participate in focused, career-prep webinars. A select few qualified incoming Fisher female MBA students are awarded Forté Fellowships each year, receiving scholarship support, additional networking opportunities and a lifetime Forté membership. For the 2016-2017 academic year, seven first-year and five second-year MBA students were named Forté Fellows. 

Katherine Beaulieu (MBA ’15) was a member of Fisher’s 2014 charter class of Forté Fellows. She found that the Forté experience added even more value to her Fisher MBA.

“Fisher’s partnership with the Forté Foundation is just one example of the many meaningful ways students — particularly, female business students — can get involved throughout their educational career at Fisher,” Beaulieu said. “It meant a lot to me that my college and an organization like Forté were working together to increase the number of women with fulfilling careers in business.”

Fisher Graduate Women in Business

FGWIB at Run Like a Girl 2016

The Fisher Graduate Women in Business (FGWIB) student organization promotes the role of women in business by providing its members with the practical knowledge they need for success in business. Membership is open to both men and women who are interested in topics affecting women in business today.  

The organization hosts networking events that provide its members with opportunities to interact with business leaders from around the community. Some signature events during the 2016-2017 academic year include a visit from Kathryne Reeves, senior vice president of marketing at Cardinal Health; a roundtable discussion with Cheryl Krueger, founder of Cheryl’s Cookies; and the Bright Futures workshop at the YWCA Columbus.

Additionally, FGWIB participates in community-focused events, such as the MaternOhio Run Like a Girl charity race, which benefits Go Red for Women; and volunteering opportunities for Dress for Success. 

Undergraduate Women in Business Association

UBWA at Cardinal Health

Fisher’s Undergraduate Business Women’s Association provides business majors with opportunities to grow personally and professionally through leadership activities, education, networking support and community service.

The organization’s meetings feature guest speakers who discuss relevant topics such as salary negotiation and career fair preparation. It also hosts professional development events, community service opportunities and social gatherings. Professional development events have included site visits to DSW and Cardinal Health, and the group hosted the 2016 Big Ten Women’s Business Connection Conference

During the 2016-2017 academic year, the student organization has raised more than $15,000 for BuckeyeThon, coordinated a Fisher book drive that collected 200 books, and coordinated six service days that benefitted Dress for Success.  

Ninety-six members comprise the organization, which and is open to both men and women.  

Women in Supply Chain 

Peg Pennington
Peg Pennington

Fisher’s Center for Operational Excellence (COE) has taken an active role in raising awareness of the dearth of women in the field of supply chain in a number of ways. Peg Pennington, executive director of the COE, shared her insights in an essay published in Smart Business in which she cited research showing that as Baby Boomers retire from the supply chain industry, a critical need for talent — female talent — is arising in this historically male-dominated industry. 

Although slightly more than one-third of undergraduate supply chain courses are composed of female students, that number drops to a mere 5 percent of women in supply chain at the C-suite level within Fortune 500 companies.  

To address this gender gap, Fisher’s Department of Management Sciences launched the Pathways for Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain program in 2016. The program seeks to increase the number of women considering careers in the field of supply chain management. 

The program combines a scholarship component with experiential learning and introduces first-year female undergraduate students to supply chain careers earlier in their college experience by providing them with opportunities to engage with industry executives in a mentoring capacity. 

Pathways at Amazon

During the program’s inaugural year, Pathways outings have included tours of Wendy’s and Wendy’s Quality Supply Chain Co-op, Amazon’s Fulfillment Center in Etna, Ohio, and the Marysville, Ohio, plant of Contitech, an industrial conveyor belt manufacturer. The students also have attended a National Association of Women Business Owners conference and met with supply chain leaders from JPMorgan Chase & Co., Nestlé USA, DSW Inc. and Columbus-based Motorists Insurance Group.

COE Women's Forum 

Paula Bennett
Paula Bennett

The COE hosts biannual Women’s Forum events that feature prominent female business leaders. In June, Paula Bennett (BSBA ’71), CEO of leading women's apparel company J. Jill, will return to campus as part of the Forum. 

Other prominent female business leaders who have spoken at recent COE events include:

  • Meri Stevens, vice president of supply chain strategy and deployment, Johnson & Johnson 
  • Mary Navarro, senior executive vice president at Huntington Bank 
  • Debra Jasper, founder and CEO of Mindset Digital 
  • Karen Martin, author of The Outstanding Organization 
  • Helen Turnbull, CEO of Human Facets 
  • Georgia Keresty, vice president and global head of pharmaceutical development & manufacturing sciences at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Lynn Kelley, senior vice president of supply chain & continuous improvement at Union Pacific Railroad
  • Gail Marsh, senior associate vice president & chief strategy officer, Wexner Medical Center 

Girls Heart Reading Ohio: Girls & Entrepreneurship

Cycle 7

Girls Heart Reading Ohio (GHRO) is a collaboration between Fisher and Femergy, a nonprofit dedicated to providing holistic programs that enhance girls and women in the areas of education, health and wellness; and Prospanica Columbus, a professional organization for Hispanic and Latinos in central Ohio.

The Girls and Entrepreneurship series includes team-building activities and workshops, which are hosted by Fisher, for girls ages 12 through 17 who are interested in entrepreneurship. The program consists of a dozen Saturday workshops that connect girls with Fisher faculty, staff and students who serve as mentors. 

Workshop topics during the 2016-2017 academic year include leadership, teamwork, and entrepreneurial concepts and best practices. The program concludes with a capstone case competition in the format of the “Shark Tank” TV series, which will involve teams pitching ideas for restaurant concepts to a group of experienced restaurateurs and entrepreneurs.