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Women Challenge Old Boy Networks With One of Their Own

February 24, 1993

SELINSGROVE, Pa. (AP) _ Tired of running up against the old boy networks of corporate America, the women of Susquehanna University’s business school have created one of their own.

The school began assigning mentors to each woman majoring in business last year.

This year’s mentors, Susquehanna graduates already in the business world, met their charges on Friday.

The old girl network doesn’t include poker games, golf outings or hunting trips. It does include discussions on getting ahead and juggling home and career.

″I wish I had had someone to talk to about business while I was in school,″ said Mary Mack, a 1983 graduate assigned to freshman Colleen Supinski of Easton.

Ms. Mack, who runs a Washington computer programming business, said she entered the business world thinking it would be just like her textbooks said. Instead, she said, promotions at the company she previously worked for were based on who one knew, and its ″family atmosphere″ chilled when she wanted a transfer.

″It was just like being a freshman in college. You start naive and then you figure out what reality is,″ Ms. Mack said.

The Susquehanna students are assigned mentors in the second semester of their freshman year. Twenty-one are starting the program this year; 18 started last year.

″I’m concerned about having a husband, kids, two dogs and being a career woman,″ said Kim Dunkle, a sophomore from West Chester who began the program last year. ″I’m nervous that I’m not going to be able to do it.″

Mentors are required to meet with the students at least twice a year for the students’ four years of college. Students are encouraged to call or write at least four times a year.

There is no similar program for men at the school. No men on the faculty stepped forward to start one, and business dean Carl Bellas said he will let the women’s program run at least four years before he’ll approve a program for men.

″I don’t want to diminish the importance of this,″ he said.

Mary Cianni, a business professor who created the program, said the corporate world already is set up to benefit men. Men and their mentors already have informal contacts such as golf games, poker games and nights out.

″Women tend to think that ″If I’m doing a good job, someone will notice and I’ll get my promotion,″ Cianni said. For women to rise above the ″glass ceiling,″ they will have to establish contacts among both men and women, she said.

″Most companies do realize that the work force of the future is going to be non-white and non-male,″ Cianni said. ″Our hope is that our graduates grow up professionally so they can be there when these jobs open up.″

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