Women in Parking Association
By Colleen Niese
When asked if he believed in clubs for women, comedian W.C. Fields responded: “Yes, but only if every other form of persuasion fails.”
The advancement of women has come a long way since Fields’ comment in the 1930s, from joining clubs to holding political positions and running companies. And while women continue to emerge from all disciplines within the parking industry, opportunities to further narrow the gap between men and women in terms of promotion, advancement and C-Level presence in the boardroom still exist.
As a result, the abilities and talents of women are underutilized in the industry. With survey data specific to male/female parity in parking not readily available, anecdotally speaking, the conversation surrounding recruitment and promotion of women has certainly gained momentum across the industry over the last few years.
From my own experience, I can recall that when I started to be part of client presentations in 1994, at every meeting I could bank on the other side of the table remarking (in various, sometimes “colorful” ways) how “refreshing” it was to see a female face on the team.
Now, closing in on 18 years later, I can definitely say that that type of comment is made less and less, but I’m not surprised when it’s noted.
This dynamic of industry professionals’ desire to see growth in the female sector and the established presence of women within a client demographic offers an exciting opportunity to promote the advancement of female professionals in parking, while at the same time further educating the whole industry on the value that diversity brings from a business perspective.
With this vision in mind, the Women In Parking (WIP) professional organization was founded in fall 2011. This association comprises representatives from nearly every industry-related discipline who share the common goal of being dedicated to promoting the advancement and achievement of professional women by providing networking, leadership and career enhancement opportunities to all members.
Members have access to peers across the industry to discuss trends, network and gain continuing education through these services:
Quarterly Webinars: Led by a professional facilitator to learn and discuss subject matters relevant to professional women from both a parking and career developmental perspective;
Monthly E-Letter: This newsletter provides information needed to keep current with relevant parking industry issues, key accomplishments by members and the latest WIP events and offerings. All members are welcomed to contribute their success and insights to be shared across the WIP network.
WIP LinkedIn Group: a unique forum where members can post questions, provide feedback and contribute to ad hoc conversations in real-time.
Future plans for the association include:
• a formal mentoring program that links senior female executives with less tenured professionals who have the desire to gain experience in order to advance their careers.
• a scholarship fund to attract and support university students in their work toward a degree.
• an annual conference for all to learn from one another through break-out round table discussions; to participate in a keynote speaker session; and to recognize member achievement during a dinner celebration.
WIP is led by the following board members: Ruth Beaman, Executive Director, Co-Founder of IntegraPark; Colleen Niese, Chairperson, Principal of What’s Next Consulting; Marcy Sparrow, Treasurer, Advertising Sales Manager of Parking Today magazine; Karla Baig, Secretary, AVP of Business Development, Northeast, for ParkTrak; Barbara Chance, Director, Founder of Chance Management Advisors; Nancy Evens, Director, Project Manager and Owner of Evens Time; Sherry Evens, Director, Project Manager and Owner of Evens Time; Sandra Smith, Supervisor of Bylaw Services for the municipality of Whistler, Canada; and Brandy Stanley, Director, Parking Services Manager for the city of Las Vegas.
The Women in Parking Board is ever thankful for the generous support of John Van Horn of Parking Today and of The Beaman Group. With their collective involvement, the association has a platform to launch WIP, planned for the 2012 Parking Industry Exhibition (PIE) March 18-21 in Chicago. WIP has set a meeting at PIE for 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 19.
The parking industry is complex, dynamic and rewarding – the very reasons professionals have committed their respective tenures to parking. The Women in Parking association looks forward to playing its part in attracting, promoting and recognizing female professionals who will gain career experience while at the same time contribute to the future of the parking industry.
For more information, go to www.womeninparking.com.
Colleen Niese, Principal of What’s Next Consulting, can be reached at email@example.com.