Professional News

‘UK at the Half’: UK women in business share challenges, hope for future

Jennifer Siebenthaler (left) and Susan Zhu. The two discuss challenges facing women in business today, the support systems in place to help them thrive and advice they would give to students as they pursue their careers in this ever-changing field.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 20, 2023)  In this “UK at the Half,” the University of Kentucky is celebrating Women’s History Month — a time to reflect on and recognize women’s varied accomplishments and contributions, including those of women in business.

According to the National Women’s Business Council annual report, 42% of all U.S. businesses are owned by women, and in 2019 those businesses employed more than 9.4 million workers.

However, based on the annual Women in the Workplace study by and McKinsey & Company, “Women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rate we’ve ever seen, which could have serious implications for companies that are already facing underrepresentation in those roles.”

As the associate dean for undergraduate affairs and senior lecturer in the Von Allmen School of Accountancy in the Gatton College of Business and Economics, Jennifer Siebenthaler has an undeniable passion for business.

But she admits, there were many barriers she had to overcome throughout her 30-year career.

Understanding the challenges women face as backers and founders, leaders and earners, Siebenthaler now serves as a mentor for students and colleagues.

“I want people to keep making changes and keep moving us forward, so that we all have the same opportunities — whether it’s gender-related, race-related or where you come from geographically,” she said. “I hope we will continue to be uncomfortable when it’s uncomfortable, so we can continue to make changes.”

Susan Zhu, who joined Gatton College three years ago as an assistant professor of management, believes having support is invaluable. 

“Part of mentoring is reminding everybody who is going into the workplace — don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself, especially women,” Zhu said. “Just ask for what you want. Advocating doesn’t hurt, and try for all different types of opportunities.”

In this “UK at the Half,” Siebenthaler and Zhu further discuss the challenges facing women in business today, the support systems in place to help women thrive and advice they would give to students as they pursue their careers in this ever-changing field.

"UK at the Half" airs during halftime of each UK football and basketball game broadcast on radio and is hosted by UK Public Relations and Marketing. To hear the "UK at the Half" interview, click on the play button above. 

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.