Local African American women speak out on equal pay at campus panel discussion


Panel members discuss the challenges of being an African American women in male dominated fields in Whitehall on Wednesday, March 21, 2018. Photo by JoTessa Townes

JoTessa Townes

Local African American women spoke on the challenges of being successful in male-dominated fields at a panel discussion Wednesday evening.

The panel discussion was planned in response to a recent bill concerning women’s equal pay. Delta Sigma Theta, a sorority with a focus on the black community, held the event at Whitehall.

Andrea James was the first black woman elected to Lexington’s City Council, on which she served from 2007 to 2011. She is currently studying Sustainable Ag Systems at Kentucky State University.

“You can have it all, just not all at once,” said James, who is successful despite not originally attending college.

She is going to college now because she took time to take care of children and make sure her plans were in order. She believes her going to college now is not too late but is actually perfect.

Tiffany Williams is a UK graduate and CEO of Quality Tax Service, one of the largest tax services in the Lexington area. Williams agreed with James’ statement that you can have it all if you have a strong support system.

Williams’ advice was to try new things and to see what really fits with you. She explained to the audience of students that their age is the time to make mistakes and learn from them. Then, the students will know better and be smarter when they enter their chosen field.

Chrysanthia Carr-Seals, a panel member who is currently running for District Commissioner of Lexington/Fayette County, gave great insight on the struggles of women in male dominated-fields.

Carr-Seals quit her job to raise her two boys, which is why her sons are successful, she said. She has switched careers from being a lawyer to becoming a pastor.

Carr-Seals, who received a Juris Doctor Degree from Miles Law School and a Master of Divinity Degree from the Lexington Theological Seminary, said that not only do white males and females discriminate against her, but also African American males and females.

She said women in male-dominated fields “need to stand up like we did in the women’s right movement.”

Dr. Uneeda Bryant, an associate professor of veterinary pathology at UK, spoke on the challenges of having to balance her job and home life. Bryant has a toddler, and her husband also works long hours. Her toddler is with her most of the time when coming to panels or other activities, but she said she doesn’t get much time with her own child.

Bryant said that although it is hard, anyone can achieve a healthy balance between business and personal life.

Erica Davis earned her degree in chemical engineering with a certificate in Biopharmaceutical Engineering from the UK in 2012. She worked as a quality Engineer for 2M and YKK and is currently the owner of SkyLimit Tutoring, LLC.

Davis said thatt many times she has negotiated for her salary or vacation time and told her superiors that her skills were worth more than what they were trying to make it seem– because she was a woman. She said that people should not be afraid to use their voice.