My hand was cramping, Locust Walk seemed a mile long, and I was completely overwhelmed by the bustling, two–hour–long whirlwind of a clubs fair. In hindsight, I really should’ve brought that tote bag. While I had heard of how prominent business clubs were on Penn’s campus, I was still struck by the sheer number of booths. Although I wasn’t involved in business in high school, I found myself nodding along to suit–clad speakers and letting people press yet another flier in my hand. It was all very novel.
Sarina Divan (W ’21) and Becca Bean (C, W ’21) had a much different experience. Becca recounts how they were both very involved in business before Penn: they both started a Girl Up club at their respective high schools and then went on to both become teen advisors. That's how they met in Washington, D.C. right before their senior year. Fast forward to Penn, when they discover that they’re in the same dorm.
Sarina and Becca were both part of business–orientated clubs their freshman years, and both came to the conclusion that there was something missing. As Becca put it, after a year of examining Penn’s club landscape and being in groups focused on either consulting or gender equality, she "didn't feel like there was anything that truly joined the two." Or, as Sarina says, “there was a gap in the pre–professional environment.” They wanted to change that.
"I wanted to really consult for something, with a specific purpose in mind," Becca concludes.
So Sarina and Becca founded Gender Balance Consulting. “Starting a club is a mindset,” Sarina says. Gender Balance Consulting is one of the many consulting clubs on campus, but is fundamentally a bit different. As co–founders and co–presidents, Sarina and Becca hope to bring gender balance into the conversation both internally at Penn and externally in Philly and possibly even beyond.
Their students have already been in communication with one of their first clients, Saxbys. Sarina describes some of their Penn–focused projects for the year, including examining “student perception on gender balance” as well as the gender balance of Penn’s clubs. Because of this, other clubs have already reached out to them in order to be studied and to be given advice, which Becca explains are the two aspects of Gender Balance Consulting: “writing reports and gathering data” and giving “recommendations to [their] clients.” She adds that “it would be very interesting to continue to pursue those relationships with clubs and those projects, especially from a peer–to–peer standpoint.”
They’ve already had their first big event of the year. On October 16, Stephenie Foster, who is part of Smash Strategies, presented to approximately 150 students the research she’s done about women in the workforce. Although not every student is actively part of Gender Balance Consulting, Becca emphasizes that this event allows them to “know that we are here.”
Along with the usual skills a pre–professional club provides, Becca adds on how Gender Balancing Consulting will also allow students to become more attuned to awareness and all forms of inclusivity. It will really bring gender balance into the conversation here on campus.
A previous version of this article misstated the date of the event with Stephenie Foster. It was on October 16, not October 17. It also said that Girl Up had "team advisors," when the correct term is "teen advisors." 34th Street regrets the error.