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Business Beat - Summit Tackles Issues for Women in Leadership

Isabelle Robles/Missouri Business Alert
Anna Hui (from left), Zora Mulligan, Sara Parker Pauley and Anne Precythe, all directors of state departments, participate in a panel at the Missouri Chamber's Women in Leadership event.

Braid artists in Missouri used to have to obtain a cosmetology license to practice legally — but cosmetology training didn’t include instruction on hair braiding.

Now, thanks to a bill that was signed into law last year and survived a legal fight that advanced to the U.S. Supreme Court, people desiring to braid hair in the state can apply for a hair braider’s license. It costs $20 and takes four to six hours of instructional video with a board’s assessment, rather than the 1,500 hours previously required.


Wendy Doyle, founder and CEO of the Women’s Foundation, shared this story at the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Women in Leadership summit to illustrate why women should be engaged in policy decisions that affect women and why it’s important for them to hold positions of power.

The inaugural summit, held Friday in Columbia, brought together businesswomen from across the state to address ways to help women advance in the workforce.

Here are four main recommendations from speakers and panelists at the event:

Seek mentorship and be an ally

Doyle, whose Kansas City-based foundation promotes equity and opportunity for women, cited research from Project Diane, which looked at focus groups of men and women in the military to learn what holds women back from advancement. She said that women benefit when they have mentors, especially male ones.

The project found that having a mentor with different perspectives can assist in success for women. Catherine Hanaway, a St. Louis attorney and former Missouri House Speaker, echoed that sentiment, saying she found it important to confidently work with male counterparts and mentors.

“Don’t think of it as one of the boys, think of it as one of the team,” Hanaway said.

Doyle said women in focus groups noted that being supportive to other women was increasingly important. They said that when women were in the minority, their mistakes would be attributed to women as a group, rather than to the individual.

Hanaway and others on a panel about women in politics said women in public office were more likely than their male counterparts to work with one another across party lines.

“Be good to other women,” Hanaway said. “If we don’t start being better to each other, we’re going nowhere.”

To read more, see our partners at Missouri Business Alert.