March is Women’s History Month and what better way to acknowledge it than by sharing the inspiring story of Con-Tech President, Barbara Ryniker Evans? Over the past four years she has steered Con-Tech through some of its most challenging times and continued to lead it to greater success. Her experience as an attorney, entrepreneur and business leader has added to the achievements and growth of the company and we want to take a moment and recognize her hard work. Here’s her take on being a female leader…
Women today are making an incredible change in the business world by being in the business world. Women are graduating from all programs in record numbers, many at the top of their classes. And, their presence in ever growing numbers has effectuated meaningful changes in the workplace and how women are perceived there.
Being a female professional was certainly an oddity when I first started to practice law. When I graduated from law school in 1976 there were numerous stereotypes about women lawyers. Even my then-boyfriend’s mother scolded me that women should not be lawyers! Fortunately, my own family was very supportive and taught my sister and I that living up to our talents was both a duty and a privilege. Conversely, squandering those talents would be an enormous waste.
But executing on this mission was a considerable challenge in the 1970s as it had been for prior generations of women. The legal profession itself then was only 10% female. However, my law school class was 25% female so the profession was slowly beginning to diversify. Likewise, female representation in the ranks of the businesses we represented then was equally limited.
But, the intervening decades have seen the numbers of highly qualified women in all industries grow. With those numbers the face of each of these businesses has changed to be more representative of the clients that are served. Women typically form strong working relationships with one another. Thus, being a woman in business has become an asset today. You can see these changes in large and small ways. It struck me recently in a
meeting with our finance team that all of the people at the table were female.
I practiced law for many years and served as outside legal counsel in the years to my late husband’s company, Con-Tech International. When he died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer, I took over the operational responsibilities as President and CEO for the company. The operational arena at Con-Tech is very different than the advisory capacity in which I served for so many years. My responsibilities range from strategic planning, financial and personnel oversight and marketing, to the maintenance of our warehouses and corporate headquarters.
Today, the business world is very different from the one I entered more than 40 years ago. Many of our key customer contacts are female, as are many of the people who work for me at Con-Tech. And in the many conferences we attend, it is not unusual to have a majority of both the speakers and attendees be female as well. Many of these meetings are held in cities with female mayors, in states with female governors or where
many of the state and federal representatives and senators are likewise female. Furthermore, if you were to appear before a court or agency at either the state or local level, more than likely your matter would be handled by a woman.
In all walks of life, women are making a change in their business by being in their business. The generations that follow will greatly benefit from their presence.