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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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Emilie Hersh Emilie Hersh

Panelists Break the Glass Ceiling

The Women in the Boardroom Symposium takes place 8:30 - 10:30 a.m., Feb. 9.
By Ashley Vaughn

You’re boarding an early morning business flight when you notice that there is something distinctly different from yourself and the other 39 passengers on board. In that moment, you realize that you are the only female passenger on the flight.

Scarcity of female execs

For Emilie Hersh, CEO of Interknowlogy, a global leader in technology and software development, this is the norm. Hersh is one of the 16 percent of women who serve on a board and one of the 14 percent of women who hold an executive officer position in corporate America.

“Being based in technology, I am frequently the only woman in the room, and I don’t even notice anymore,” Hersh said.

Bottom of the corporate ladder

Hersh is not alone. Catalyst, a nonprofit research group that studies women in leadership positions as well as diversity and inclusion, reported in December 2011 that women are no further along the corporate ladder than they were six years ago.

Furthermore, Catalyst reported that only one in 10 companies had women serving on their boards and more than a quarter of companies had no women in executive officer positions in 2011. In addition, the gender gap in pay continues to prevail with men accounting for 92 percent of the top earners.

In a survey of students on campus conducted by SDSU Career Services, it was discovered that while all female respondents aspired to be a leader in an organization, they did not have a female role model nor had they met an executive-level female leader.

Women in the Boardroom Symposium

SDSU Career Services responded to this need by inviting executive-level women like Hersh to speak at the Women in the Boardroom Symposium.

The Women in the Boardroom Symposium, which will take place at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center from 8:30 – 10:30 a.m., Feb. 9, is designed to provide SDSU students with the opportunity to learn about leadership while recognizing the global shortage of women in the boardroom.

“We want to use an event like the symposium to look at the issue of role models,” said James Tarbox, director for SDSU Career Services. “We hope to demonstrate the importance in finding a role model who’s out there that may resemble what you want to look like in the future.”

Students will be empowered, connected and educated by a group of executive-level female panelists who are in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries.

The panelists will discuss topics ranging from their personal challenges in the work place to advice for women heading into the workforce. Lori Ryan, management professor in the College of Business Administration, will serve as the event’s host, and Rebecca Smith, vice president of the San Diego Workforce Partnership, will serve as panel moderator.

Panelists include:

  • Karen Garsson, vice president of corporate responsibility at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)
  • Emilie Hersh, CEO of Interknowlogy
  • Laura Marion, former CFO of Aptera Motors Inc.
  • Erna Adelson, senior director of the Sony Entertainment Network

“I truly hope that students take advantage of the opportunity to ask us questions and have a conversation,” Hersh said. “If you don’t get out there and you don’t participate, then jobs aren’t just going to be coming your way.”

All juniors and seniors are encouraged to attend. To register for the event please visit SDSU Career Services at A live Twitter discussion will also take place using the hashtag #womenlead.

“If you’re not networking, you’re not working,” Tarbox said.