May 24, 2019

Business and Professional Women gather for Houlton convention

HOULTON — More than 70 women from around the state were here over the weekend to attend the 76th annual convention of the Maine Federation of Business and Professional Women.

Among those attending the convention was Avis F. Moore of Arkansas, the national BPW bylaws chairwoman, who was the guest speaker. During her address to the convention Saturday night, Moore compared the BPW mission of equity for women to a jigsaw puzzle.

“There are easy puzzles and there are hard puzzles,” she said, adding that no one is sure what the final equity puzzle will look like.

“We have the vision of what the end result is going to be, and it makes working toward the end just a little easier,” she said.

“It’s easy to find problems, but it’s hard to find solutions,” said Moore. “Teamwork is the task that helps common people achieve uncommon results.”

A highlight of the three-day convention was the Young Careerist Speakoff. The competition featured two finalists chosen from their BPW districts who spoke on the topic, “Equity in the Workplace.”

This year’s contestants were Anna Watt from the Caribou BPW, who serves as director and coordinator of the Aroostook Family Investment Center, and Nancy Owen from the Dover-Foxcroft BPW, who is director of communications for the United Way of Eastern Maine.

In addition to the speeches, each woman meets with all three judges at an impromptu luncheon, holds individual interviews with each judge and explains how she would help other women achieve and maintain leadership skills.

Watt, who was chosen the winner, will represent Maine at the national BPW convention next month in Louisville, Ky.

During her speech, Watt said that equity for women goes beyond equal pay and opportunities for advancement. She said there were psychological values that go with equity and that continue to influence the roles of women as workers.

Despite the fact that women make up almost half the nation’s work force and own 6 million businesses, for too many women, she said, a positive self-image is virtually nonexistent, adding that welfare is a barrier that is hard to overcome, and older female workers are often the first victims of corporate downsizing.

The reason that women still do not have equity in the workplace is ignorance in the work force, she said.

Owen said women “need to raise the next generation so they don’t think of things as `women’s work,’ but as everybody’s work.”

Randa L. Shirland of Holden was chosen as BPW Woman of the Year. A certified mastectomy fitter at the Women’s Center at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, she was one of four nominees.

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