9 a.m. Everyone is excited to see what they will be receiving after the Salon. As more and more people entered the room, the more smiles were spread across their faces. Finally, the moment for the Salon to begin; everyone took their seats on the grey sofas and the Salon officially began with some introductory words by Sanghyeon Cheon.
The first speaker was Erin McKee, who spoke after watching a TED talk by Anne-Marie Slaughter which was called “Can we all “have it all”?” What stood out the most to the audience was when she said, “To all the women out there, you can be an amazing leader; that is available for you. You need to set your goals and work hard. But you have to decide, what is the most important right now? You have to make the choices but be happy with the consequences that you get.”
Mrs. McKee is the USAID Mission Director to Indonesia. She also has a daughter, Caitlin, in 10th grade. When her daughter was 5 years old, Mrs. McKee was asked to go to Iraq alone and she chose to go. Her peers asked her, “how can you abandon your family?” She brought up the idea whether or not the same question would have been asked if her husband had gone? Currently, it is still very hard to see women in leadership, but Erin McKee proved to be the epitome of having everything, a career all the while raising a family.
When you hear the word “leader,” there is often the notion of “corporate” and you think of someone in a business suit. However, Amy Smith offered the audience of the Salon a different perspective of the leaders she has seen in her life. Ms. Smith is currently working on a project which documents ladies in Indonesian markets who are called buruh gendong; these ladies are often unseen. These ladies carry 60-plus kilos on their backs every day to provide for their families. Through her project, Ms. Smith conveys that you don’t have to be corporate to be a leader and that there are often leaders in the world that go unseen.
Vivian Ng, the first female student council president at JIS in a decade, spoke about how internal factors such as lack of confidence, the sacrifices involved and the fear of imperfection are reasons why fewer girls take the lead in JIS student councils. She shared advice from her older sister, “Not believing in yourself will be your biggest regrets,” and ended with a challenge for all of us: “Compliment at least one girl and tell her she’s doing good.”
It’s still very hard to see women in leadership, but from the speakers in the Salon, we are able to see through the lenses of different people a variety of women in leadership. The Salon was held in anticipation of the main event: Crossing Paths in January 2018.
Coming up: highlights from the Salon panel discussions.
This article was originally written by Yuna Kim and has been edited by Claudia Mak and Amit Khanna.