WPLN Hosts Panel at Professional Women in Advocacy Conference

Last week, WPLN Founder and President Larissa Martinez was joined by Allison Kajs (Senior Manager of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, API Energy), Emily Casey (Director, UPS Public Affairs), and Jessica Cabrera (Managing Director of Member Engagement, AFBF) as panelists at Women in Government Relations (WGR)’s 2023 Professional Women in Advocacy (#PWIA) Conference. The panel topic was “Industry Experts as Public Leaders: How more professional diversity makes for better public policy.”

Martinez opened with a message close to the heart of WPLN: "It matters to tell these stories and show why diverse voices belong at the table."

The panel continued in a lively discussion of challenges that face women in the workforce, especially in stereotypically male-dominated fields such as truck driving, farming, and oil & gas. "Seeing behind the curtain and understanding the value of these industries, and yet their value not being on display, is a huge miss for our society,” said Cabrera.

In answer to a question about why such stereotypes exist, Casey highlighted the need to recruit young people to these industries early: "We don't hear, 'Go be a truck driver' in schools. But we should. It's a high-paying career that doesn't require a college degree- come work for us!" Cabrera had similar sentiments, but in relation to farming: "Farmers are 1.5% of the population... If we do not engage locally then those voices are not heard."

But diversity in public policy doesn't just apply to female representation. Kajs encouraged the audience to "expand our definitions of diversity. It is gender and ethnicity – it's also our lived experiences like socioeconomic status, differing abilities, single parents, veterans, religions, the list goes on – but the point is that we have more in common than we realize, and we don’t have to be afraid of our differences.”

Stay tuned for more content highlighting powerful female leaders by following us at @WPLNetwork on all platforms!

#womeninadvocacy #wgrfierce #farmbureauwomen #professionaldiversity