The second installment of Pastries and Champagne took place on November 17, 2014. The Microsoft Offices in Chevy Chase were a perfect venue for the discussion series which this time focused on women in male dominated industries. The event drew the attention of local women interested in hearing the panel speak about being the “only” in the room, an experience many of the women echoed during the Q&A portion, and during informal networking.
Pastries and Champagne lived up to its name, with tasty cocktails brought by FOU-DRE vodka, mini pastries, and an amazing assortment of banana bread by Bananatopia. Guests were able to mingle before and after the panel and devoured the sweet treats.
To begin the evening, I told a story about feeling like the “only one.” I failed the bar exam on the first time and immediately felt like everyone else had passed and was judging me. On top of that, I began to regret the three years spent in law school and doubted my commitment to becoming a lawyer. I explained how I read a post about “being in good company.” There were many successful people, from the First Lady to a former Supreme Court Chief Justice, who didn’t pass the bar on the first time. I then asked the women to silently acknowledge one another as I called out experiences of being the “only one.” Many seemed relieved to know they were among good company.
The panel discussion was strong and each woman spoke to their respective experiences in their given industry. The crowd heard what it was like to have to define roles and defy stereotypes in the tech, liquor, construction and sports media sectors. The women spoke of expectations placed upon them by others and being “tested” to see if they were actually knowledgeable regarding their field.
One particular Q&A dialogue about chivalry stood out as all four panel members, plus P&C founder Rakia, gave unique responses on how to deal with a male co-worker always opening a door, even though she was the boss. The question highlighted a key strength of the discussion series, namely that the event is an open, honest space to talk about what goes on behind closed doors, and of course, reaffirmed that she wasn’t the “only one.”
The evening was a success and many stayed to participate in a raffle and meet the panel members. We look forward to the third installment in February which will be a coed Valentine’s Day themed mixer. I truly believe P&C is stirring dialogue in a new and refreshing way, and will continue to attract guests who will recognize that if nothing else, for at least 2.5 hours every other month, they’ll be surrounded by good company.