Female leaders are on the rise and in Kent, women are stepping up to lead clubs, create organizations and manage businesses.
Words by Taylor Robinson | Photos by Richa Sheth and Sophia Adornetto
Women in Kent, OH and at Kent State are founding clubs, running organizations, running businesses and inspiring other women to become a #GirlBoss.
The term #GirlBoss was created by Nasty Gal clothing brand founder Sophia Amorusso with her 2014 book of the same title and later Netflix Original series. Amorusso has since turned the term #GirlBoss into a media website, inspiring women to chase their dreams and support other women.
But the American Association of University Women (AAUW) says, “women are less likely than men to be in leadership positions. In universities, businesses, unions and religious institutions, male leaders outnumber female leaders by wide margins.”
AAUW reveals the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports 30,000 cases of sex discrimination creating hostile work environments, negative stereotypes of women in leadership and biases keeping women out of roles.
Women are breaking those stereotypes and creating positive work environments within Kent and offering advice to other women in the community to step up to become leaders too.
Last fall, Schrantz was testing her blood pressure before class when a classmate approached her. The pair bonded over being diabetic and when they realized there wasn’t an organization or support group on campus for diabetics, they decided to start something together.
Schrantz founded Kent State College Diabetes Network and held the first meeting last spring. The network is a chapter offering a support group for type one diabetics to volunteer and give them a network of students all going through similar problems..
While the club is open to all genders, the officer board and adviser are all women.
“From the get-go, this was a very empowering group of women,” Schrantz says. “It helps to find other women who are on the same page because you can build each other up as you go.”
While Schrantz did not face any challenges forming and running her organization, other women leaders on campus haven’t been as lucky. Elizabeth Ferry says her organization faces jokes from guys mocking the all-women organization.
“We actually get a lot of jokes from guys saying, ‘Oh, why can’t we join?’” Ferry says. “I try to ignore them because I know we’re doing something great. We’re changing lives, we’re helping girls feel super confident with themselves. I try to tell everyone else not to let it get to them, because we’re doing a great thing and it shouldn’t matter what others think.”
CHAARG helps college aged women find ways to make working out fun. Ferry says it is a great way to make friends and get involved in different social events. The organization hosts retreats, weekly workouts and small group workout days together.
“To have a bunch of girls looking up to you to make their lives better, it encourages me to make my own life better,” Ferry says. “It’s a whole different atmosphere because we are so supportive of each other and I love making all the new friends and I think since it is all girls it is really special.”
Lansinger had similar experiences of men hearing she works for Mary Kay and judging her for being part of an all women’s company.
“Working in an all women organization, I never really had any discrimination, but I definitely had people look at me and ask if I’m sure this is what I want to do,” Lansinger says. “Mostly that comes from men. There are some people who look at it as a fun way to make money and not really a career.”
As a team leader, Lansinger says they focus on empowering women with their inner and outer beauty.
“I enjoy empowering other women,” Lansinger says. “I am a very self-confident person and I love to give that to other people. I love what I do and I help people by loving on them and telling they are loved.”
Lansinger says her experience working with all women has been empowering and has boosted her self-confidence.
“Women have this nature to lead,” Lansinger says. “Women leaders are incredible. We need more women leaders throughout the world.”
In 2009 Michelle Sahr opened Off the Wagon after working with her dad in retail and other toy stores through the years. After learning of downtown’s development plans, Sahr decided on Kent to open the toy store. Off the Wagon was the first store that was all her. It is also their most successful store.
“Sometimes you have to fight to be taken seriously. But, the way I always approach it is I plowed on ahead and I acted very professional and serious,” Sahr says. “On occasion, I would just walk away from something if it wasn’t that important to my business.”
Sahr says she tries to never think about being a woman holding her back and moves forward expecting to be treated equally.
“It shouldn’t be in the back of your mind that being a woman could interfere with anything you try to do. I don’t even think about it and I think that actually helps,” Sahr says. “People are going to take you seriously if that is how you present yourself.”
Scribbles Coffee Co. owner Beth Budzar took over the store from her friends and former owners after years of being a barista.
Budzar says while it hasn’t been a struggle, she feels motivated to be taken seriously in a predominantly male business, and she feels like she has to know every aspect of her business.
When Budzar took over the ownership of Scribbles, she worked to start the roastery side of the business. In about two months, the business outgrew the small roaster in the back and they recently found a location in Tallmadge to roast their own coffee.
“I know how to roast. Every Saturday my husband and I go to roast together,” Budzar says. “I what to know all about what a good bean looks like.”
“Something that I am very proud of, is that being a woman in the coffee industry I find ways to support other women in the industry. One of those ways is searching for farms that support women’s rights,” Budzar says. “We found a coffee farm in Honduras that supports gender equity which allows the woman to have the same rights and pay as the male workers. They have 77 woman working on the farm. We named the Honduras coffee Honduras 77 in honor of those 77 women. We we hope that number grows.”
Schrantz, Ferry and Lansinger see the need for more female leaders in the world and hope to inspire and empower other women to become leaders and a #Girlboss.
“I think every woman has this overflowing self confidence inside them, but it’s about cutting through what other people have told you what you are and telling yourself you are beautiful, worthy, strong and you are a leader,” Lansinger says.
Women should believe in themselves and not care what other people think or what their opinions are, Schrantz says.
“Be proud of what you’re doing, because it’s hard, but be proud, because it’s amazing. You should be lifting other girls up, whatever you’re doing,” Ferry says.