The Carey School of Business’ Women in Business club, alongside the Stoop Storytelling Series, a Baltimore-based podcast, hosted “No Limits: Stories about female leadership, creativity, and resilience” on Wednesday. Lauren Wexler, co-founder and co-producer of the Stoop, led the event.
Wexler explained that hoped to use stories of hardship and success to inspire women.
“Sharing personal stories is one of the most powerful things we can do to build community and to make strangers familiar to each other,” she said.
Wexler stressed the importance of women having opportunities to share stories with each other. She believes that through storytelling, people can normalize women’s issues and build connections.
“In sharing our stories with each we sometimes give other women permission to want things, to be that hungry, to be that ambitious, permission and support and some little nudging to disobey whatever lessons or rules that we’ve internalized and seem so normal to us that we don’t even recognize them,” she said.
One of these speakers was Charly Carter, who shared her story of being blatantly turned down for a job in politics because of her race and gender. She emphasized how powerless she felt being rejected by a campaign manager because she was a black woman.
“This is a U.S. Senator. He has all the power and I’m just starting out my career,” she said.
After the event, Carter explained that this was the first time she had publicly discussed this experience. She expressed how sharing it publicly for the first time felt.
“Sharing the experience was liberating because for a long time it was something that I felt shame about because I felt like I made really bad decisions,” she said. “I felt ashamed that I didn’t try to report him and fight back. So recognizing that I don’t feel that shame anymore and that other people experience the same thing.”
Another speaker was Rikki Spector, a former Baltimore councilwoman. She recalled a time that two young boys carjacked her. Eventually, Spector decided to mentor the two boys and began to work toward improving their community. She believes that it is important to address the root causes of crime by improving schools and communities.
Nikiyah Fayson, a high school senior, shared a personal story about moving from Columbus, Ohio to Baltimore to be close to her mother. She addressed themes of leaving behind friends and family and the experience of feeling out of place in a new community, and ended by reflecting on how the move has affected her life for the better.
“I left everything that I knew, everything that I cared about was in Ohio. But then I stepped in something that was completely unknown to me, and it happened to be one of the best things that happened,” she said.
Fayson believes that it is important to share one’s experiences because it connects people with their communities and provides a sense of support.
“It does seem scary at first, I was pretty nervous as well. But once you’re up there, it just feels really comfortable. There are people in the room who just really want to listen to you and it’s just like telling a story to one of your friends. It’s free of judgment,” she said.
Wexler hoped that the event would serve as a platform to provide people a place to express themselves.
“What happens is that when women can share stories with each other it normalizes things that people face, that they might think they’re the only one,” she said. “It encourages people to push past what limits they’ve set in their own mind and really try to be more and do more.”
Wexler expressed the benefits of being able to share your stories in front of an accepting community.
“There’s such a big pay-off for you and for the listeners,“ she said. “You get to be yourself and realize that people really like you for who you are, not for some perfect version of yourself and the people listening get to have an intimate connection.”