March 9, 2015 / Education, feminism, News, The New Agenda

The New Agenda #WishIKnew Panel at Cornell Packs the House!

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In a panel-style discussion called “What I Wish I Knew at 22” Friday, four Cornell alumnae spoke about their careers, happiness and relationships to a packed Statler Auditorium.

Each panelist introduced herself, gave brief bits of wisdom and answered audience questions.

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Panelists Amy Siskind ’87, Jeannette M. Perez-Rossello M.D. ’91, Lauren D. Myers ’97 and Suzanne Penavić ’87 speak on gender inequality, their careers and finding balance at a panel called “What I Wish I knew at 22” in Statler Hall Friday. (Jason Ben Nathan / Sun Staff Photographer)

Amy Siskind ’87 — a Wall Street executive and co-founder and president of The New Agenda, a women’s advocacy group — began the discussion by explaining the change in the fight  for gender equality over the past few decades.

“Something happened in the ’90s that suddenly we [women’s rights advocates] plateaued off,” Siskind said. “Then by some measures in the first decade of this century women have actually started to move backwards on many measures.”

Audience members submitted questions that the panelists answered at Friday’s discussion.

According to Siskind, many audience members submitted questions asking how the panelists had dealt with failure. Prof. Jeannette M. Perez-Rossello M.D. ’91, radiology, Harvard Medical School said she believed some of her biggest failures involve missing moments with family and friends, but that failures are “opportunities to learn.”

“You fall, you learn, you stand up and you keep moving,” said Perez-Rossello, who is a pediatric radiologist at Boston’s Children’s Hospital.

After discussing their careers and providing advice on how to enter the workforce, the women spoke about the importance of health and happiness.

Suzanne Penavić ’87, senior director of employee engagement and corporate citizenship at SunGard, said she divides her time between her family and her career, but that the division is “never exactly even.”

“I think you just have to put your energy where it needs to be and you just have to choose really well,”  Penavićć said.

One audience member asked about how women who try to balance work and family can avoid the guilt associated with the belief that they are neither great mothers nor great employees.

Lauren Myers ’97, owner of the The Myers Group Inc., responded by saying she has “never felt guilty with work.”

“I know that I am giving 100 percent plus, and if you don’t recognize that, that’s on you,” Myers said.

The panel also discussed romantic relationships and friendships, with each panelist recounting their individual experiences finding love.

“You never know who the love of your life was until you take your last breath,” Penavić said.

The panel concluded with each panelist giving the advice they would have given to their 22-year-old selves and  answering more questions from the audience.  Siskind said she wishes she would have told herself that “there is no positive about replaying events.”

“I spent so many nights obsessing when I was running departments, at night replaying the day’s events,” Siskind said. “It took me until my 40s to realize all I was getting was less sleep. Forgive yourself, be gentle with yourself, move forward, let go.”

by EMILY FRIEDMAN

This article originally appeared in the Cornell Sun.

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