Woman's History Month: Business Edition Pt. 1

The Cougar's Byte highlighting women in the business field during Women's History Month

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Woman's History Month: Business Edition Pt. 1

The Cougar's Byte celebrating women in business. 

Ch'nya Howard

Over the past few years, women have flourished in the business industry. Women have positively contributed to the business sector from makeup to finance to fashion to biotech companies. In continuing to recognize Women’s History Month, the Cougar’s Byte interviewed Dawn Adams-Harmon, Ph.D., a lecturer for the School of Business and Public Management at Kean University.

Harmon shared her experiences while being in the business field and what motivated her to pursue her career. She credits her interests and career in the business field to her mother.

“As a young child of a single mother raising two children in poverty, I watched my mom return to college at nine years old and earn her bachelor's degree in accounting and psychology. I used to attend classes with her in the summer if I didn't go to camp. She pulled us out of poverty by getting her degree and obtaining her degree. She was the first graduating class out of Ramapo College,” said Harmon.

When asked if she has encountered difficulties or obstacles working within the business industry, Harmon expressed that although her career in the beginning was thriving, she did face prejudiced behavior.

“As a female starting her career in the pharmaceutical industry, I was very successful because I outworked everyone, set strategic goals, implemented and executed very creative strategies. I have experienced sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, and extreme overt and covert discrimination,” said Harmon.

Although her mother played a very important role in her life, she was not the only strong figure as Harmon also gives Oprah Winfrey credit for being an influential piece in her vocation and studies.

“Besides my mother, I would say the one person that always inspired me was Oprah Winfrey. She came from humble beginnings, overcame obstacles, and became a household name. She showed me that anything is possible, said Harmon.

With 39 years of experience in the business field, there are lessons that she has learned and wished she had known earlier in her profession.

“When I was obtaining my MBA I did my thesis on the Glass Ceiling. I believed that if I could just get past that one dimensional barrier I would climb the corporate ladder easily. I was very naive,” said Harmon.

When asked if there was any advice, she could give to young women desiring a career in the business field, Harmon emphasized the need to develop relationships with certain people who will help you along your professional journey.

“Yes, read my publications. It shows through my research what executive women in STEM have done to create resilience and ascend. One important factor is to find a sponsor higher up in the organization that will help pull you up and vouch for you," said Harmon.

Personal and professional experiences such as Harmon’s, are a reminder of what women around the world have contributed to the business sector. She is the epitome of what it means to persevere in the face of difficulties and barriers.