A woman's place . . .

March 17, 1993|By Linell Smith | Linell Smith,Staff Writer

When local lobbyist Carolyn Burridge surveyed the directorship of 50 local companies and associations last year, she discovered that three-quarters of the boards were Men Only.

Surprised, she asked one board chairman why women were not represented.

"He said, 'We thought about it, but we didn't know anyone we thought was qualified, and those women we do know don't show up to meetings,' " recalls Ms. Burridge.

Her outrage provoked her and Baltimore businesswoman Tucky Ramsey, who had made similar discoveries, to create Network 2000, an organization devoted to promoting females onto corporate and civic boards. Formed last May, the group has helped six of its members find positions on local boards, ranging from the new Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce to the YMCA of Greater Baltimore.

The group has 23 members so far including company presidents, attorneys, government officials, media workers, financial officers, health care professionals and a judge.

"Groups like these have tended to be women in business, women in politics, women in whatever," says Ms. Ramsey, who owns Presenting Baltimore, a company that plans conventions and special events. "We decided to cross-fertilize and bring all these people together."

The organization intends to raise awareness of the need for more women to be in powerful decision-making positions, to provide networking resources for its members, to introduce companies and corporations to the region's pool of highly qualified professional women, and to encourage its members to serve as mentors to younger women.

In order to join Network 2000, women must own their own businesses or maintain high-level positions in their fields. They must also devote time to public service.

"We're not interested in takers," Ms. Ramsey says. "Too much goes on here in the community and we're interested in those who are making contributions."

Network 2000 member Lois Shofer describes community leaders people who maintain a variety of commitments.

"What do we look for in a leader? It's not just someone who is president of X, Y and Z, but someone who has a little balance in their lives. Most of the women are married and have children; some are grandmoms. They need to be involved in the community. They all manage busy lives."

Dr. Shofer, for instance, directs Essex Community College's Children's Developmental Clinic, one of the area's largest volunteer training programs for people who work with developmentally disabled youngsters. She also directs the college's air and sea community programs and teaches a community health course for allied health students.

The mother of teen-agers, Dr. Shofer serves on the board of directors of the YMCA of Greater Baltimore as well as volunteering for Operation Sail and McDonogh School.

Despite her own achievements, she is keenly aware of the "glass ceiling" that prevents many women professionals from gaining greater influence.

"I think it's the result of old habits," she says. "In terms of leadership positions, people look to their own kind, whether it is their profession, or their friends, or whatever. There's a need for some [mental] re-training."

Network 2000 holds breakfast meetings for its members every ** month. For more information about this organization, call (410) .. 539-1344.

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