Article taken from WPRI
SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — For the twenty-second year in a row, Bryant University hosted a Women’s Summit on Friday, featuring leaders in business and culture to promote empowerment and inspire women.
Among the keynote speakers was Mary McDonnell, an actress, producer, podcast host, and 2018 winner of Trinity Repertory Company’s Pell Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts. Twice nominated for an Oscar, her roles across film and television include “Dances with Wolves,” “Sneakers,” the reboot of “Battlestar Galactica,” “The Closer” and “Major Crimes.” The latter two dramas featured strong female leads in the criminal investigation field, with McDonnell helming “Major Crimes,” which was spun off from the Kyra Sedgewick-starring “The Closer.” McDonnell’s “Lady Bam Podcast” documents conversations with an emphasis on women in entertainment.
Friday’s summit comes at a time of social movements demanding justice for sexual misconduct across many industries, with scores of women telling stories of harassment and discrimination; the #MeToo and #TimesUp era. The summit’s informational materials quoted Professor of Management Stephanie Creary, Ph.D., a diversity specialist at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania: “People simply aren’t willing to put up with it anymore.”
McDonnell said Friday morning, prior to delivering her keynote speech, that groups of women like the summit gathering have helped refocus her energies numerous times over the years.
“One of the things that I think is really important for women right now is to take a breath,” she said. “We really are in an important moment on the planet, a moment of extreme change. There’s a tremendous possibility ahead of us, but there’s tremendous resistance.”
To strengthen energy and numbers, McDonnell noted women need to turn to each other and develop a greater sense of trust: “We need to almost excavate cultural mistrust of each other that has been layered into women since the beginning of time.”
She also said #MeToo is the single biggest sea change in the entertainment industry she’s seen: “I think there are profound implications for the way a young woman now potentially might grow up.”
Other keynote speakers at Friday’s event included Reshma Saujani, the founder and CEO of the tech nonprofit Girls Who Code, entrepreneur Shelley Zalis, and author and communication expert Sarita Maybin.