Women discuss getting ahead in industry

From left: Nicky Dare, Vivica A. Fox, Sarah Chamberlain and Gloria Mercado-Fortine discuss empowering the female business community in Santa Clarita while moderator Tami Edwards looks on at the Women2Women event held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia Tuesday night.

Santa Clarita women attended a networking reception and panel Tuesday night geared toward empowering themselves in the workplace.

Women2Women, an international young women’s leadership program, brought its tour to the Hyatt Regency Valencia, where women spoke about how to bring more equity into the business industry.

The tour was founded by Sarah Chamberlain, president and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership.

Chamberlain said she’s the only female CEO of a major Republican organization, but wants to change that through the tour, which serves as a forum to discuss ideas.

Citing statistics that women only make 80 cents to the dollar compared to men’s wages — and even while over 11.6 million firms nationwide are women-held, women-owned firms are growing slower than men-owned firms.

Chamberlain said women needed to “count themselves in” and find mentors, and remember that “every issue is a women’s issue.”

The panel was moderated by SCVTV anchor Tami Edwards, who spoke to her own experience as a mother of four who was going through hardship six years ago.

Now, Edwards is a Realtor with HomeSmart Real Estate, but she said she sometimes is still overlooked when it comes to being taken seriously in the workplace.

Actress Vivica A. Fox, famous for roles in “Independence Day,” “Kill Bill” and “Two Can Play That Game,” spoke about her recent book, “Every Day I’m Hustling,” which she said was her way to give back to the community.

The panelists discussed being collaborative instead of competitive with fellow women.

“They always have women catfighting, but the reason we see quality entertainment is that we’re not catfighting anymore,” Fox said. “Women are sticking together. We are writing, producing and employing each other. We have learned together that there is much more power.”

Nicky Dare, president of the International Association of Women Santa Clarita, and Gloria Mercado Fortine, president and CEO of Global Education Solutions, also spoke.

Dare spoke about the importance of mentoring and networking, emphasizing that sticking together was a gateway to rising in the industry.

Fortine said that single mothers were the largest group at the poverty level and, as an educator, she wanted to promote that to level the playing field.

“I think there’s much to be done in terms of providing more resources and mentoring programs, apprenticeship programs,” she said. “Financial support is also important. Some of these women interested in opening up their own business, should have that resource. They don’t know that these opportunities exist — ways to get free education or low tuition, and I think as women networking is so important. Women, we also need to think out of the box that there are jobs out there that are nontraditional.”

Chamberlain said the tour had pushed bipartisan legislation two years ago to obtain Pell grants year round. Pell grants are subsidies the federal government provides for students in financial need who have not earned their first bachelor’s degree. She said they let people go through school faster.

She also said artificial intelligence and STEM were growing areas women should get into.

Fox said her recent syndicated talk show, “Face the Truth,” was launched because she tried to never be complacent, and that was a big mistake women made.

“I want to enlighten and inspire others to live your best life,” Fox said. “My daddy had a good saying — ‘When a chapter is over, learn to put a period on the page, and turn it.’ I had to learn that and get out of my own way and to turn the page, look forward and receive my blessings. I want all of the ladies after tonight, we’re gonna leave here and look forward to our blessings.”

The event was held in conjunction with the national movement, #CountMeIn. Women2Women is a nonprofit “dedicated to engaging women across the country in a discussion about our shared concerns and goals,” according to its mission statement.

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