Judy (Jakus) Strauss – 1979 President and Co-Founder of the Professional Women’s Network
It was 1978, and women were just beginning to be recognized for their full range of abilities. The women’s movement, bra burning, and male doubt and fear set the stage for the first meeting of the Network of Marketing Women (NMW) — now called the Professional Women’s Network.
Terry Joiner and I met while taking a class in selling and marketing. We quickly realized that we had some common challenges — not the least of which was whether to wear a skirt or pants to meet an Asian male prospect. In those days, male prospects, who were most of the people with buying power, routinely assumed that saleswomen had no intellect or knowledge about products but were purely decorative.
“Why did the company send a woman?” they would ask.
We had to work hard to establish credibility. And we did. We learned from each other in the NMW that we had to adapt to our prospect’s expectations and needs. We found that if we allowed male buyers to flirt with us, and we reciprocated, that we would get in the door quickly and soon they would forget their objections while we slid in there with the knowledge and sales techniques to seal the deal. We had to do it and it worked. Thankfully those days are gone, but it sure was fun to educate men about female competence.
The Network began meeting twice a month in 1978 and within six months had seen over 100 marketing women at lunch meetings. We had great female mentors as speakers and great support from each other. We often had round-table check-ins where each member would talk about a professional accomplishment from the previous week. It was a fabulous collaboration, a supportive group of wonderful women, and it helped us all become more professional and accomplished.
The times have changed, as they always do, but one thing remains constant: the support of other women enriches us all. Congratulations to the Professional Women’s Network for the three decades and more of helping Hawaii women achieve their goals. I am so proud to be a part of this heritage.