Gender Obstacles in Opportunities and Leadership — Julie Roehm

Women encounter several inequities in the business world compared to men. Such unconscious gender bias is still prevalent and hinders women’s advancement and growth into corporate leadership. That bias is reflected during hiring, promotions, and training where women tend to experience more discrimination than men. Whilst men attain and occupy more opportunities and leadership positions than women.

Recently I was a panelist at an in-person event organized by “Brand Innovators”. We discussed gender obstacles in opportunities and leadership. At the panel I shared my experience of facing gender obstacles during my educational and professional life, and how that has impacted my view on equity and diversity when building and leading teams.

“I started off as an engineer in the late 80’s. I was one of a handful of women at Purdue for engineering. Then I went to business school at the University of Chicago. There were more women there than in my engineering classes, but still not too many. My first job was at an automotive company, where few women were in the call center but not in the management, nor at the dealers.

“The obstacles for me were that I had chosen a very quantitative path which had been male-dominated. The barrier for me was not getting the same opportunities as them. Someone next to me was promoted, while I was asking for the promotion. It was always very disheartening and then you tend to move jobs.

“I had a horrific fallout with one of my employers more than 15 years ago. Looking back, this wouldn’t have happened if I would have been a man. There are a lot of barriers to being a strong, outspoken woman — and one who is willing to be a change agent and break the status quo. That sets you up. Sometimes it even happens amongst women peers, which is also difficult. I work hard to support other women in the industry. My entire leadership team is women. I don’t do that intentionally; I just look to be really inclusive. I focus not only on race, physical or gender identity but also about diversity of thought. I’m really looking for people who have had totally different experiences, so I don’t have to fear ‘sameness’. I feel like there has been a lot of progress but I’m very conscientious because of my own career path. Also, I am trying not to be over-indexing to be non-inclusive of the men on the team because I hear and feel that they are the new minority. So, I am trying to keep that balance.”

Julie Roehm is the Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Experience Officer at Party City. She is an innovative customer-centric marketer known for strategizing profitable corporate turnarounds with fast revenue growth via capturing stories that resonate with clients. She was named “Marketer of Year” by BrandWeek, Brand Innovators ‘Top 50 Women in Brand Marketing, the Tri-State Diversity Council’s “Most Powerful and Influential Woman”, an Automotive News “Marketing All-Star” and one of Working Mother’s “Top 25 Women”. She’s on the forefront of new marketing ideas, and being result-oriented, she uses her vast marketing experience in all facets of business strategy and marketing execution to help deliver the message of the brand.



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