In the finale event of CMT’s Women’s History Month celebrations, a powerhouse panel of successful Nashville businesswomen gathered for “Stand By Your Plan: Nashville Women Who Did.” The accomplished and diverse group — Gina Butler (Gigi’s Cupcakes), Monica Cintado (SVP of Development, United Surgical Partners International), Kathleen Cotter (Owner, The Bloomy Rind artisan cheese shop), Taryn Foshee (Founder, Women Can Talk Sports), and Abby White (Staff Editor and writer, South Comm) — delivered an eclectic look into the inspirations, motivations and obstacles they have encountered as women in the work force. CMT correspondent Allison DeMarcus served as moderator.
Foshee, currently pursuing a master’s degree in sociology, shared how she was able to turn frustration into motivation. After years of feeling like she knew as much about sports as any guy, but lacking the confidence to speak up about it, she created the website womencantalksports.com.
“Women have to prove their authenticity as a fan more so than men do, but I don’t believe you have to master a sport to enjoy it,” Foshee said.
Foshee designed the website to give women the opportunity to discuss and learn about sports in a comfortable environment, leading them to feel more secure in their knowledge.
The importance of self-confidence was a common thread for the panelists. As one of very few women in her field, Cintado has to constantly be on top of her game.
“I have to be smarter and brighter and work harder than anyone else, but I don’t resent it,” Cintado said. “People sense that confidence and respect it.”
Determination also plays a key role on the professional path. Said Butler, “[When trying to start Gigi’s Cupcakes] I went to four banks, and all of them laughed in my face. But I’m very dedicated and determined, and when I want to do something, I do it.”
White, an editor in the male-dominated alternative newspaper industry, added “You have to be unique and you have to be persistent. I constantly prove to everyone I deserve to be here.”
All of the panelists agreed that changes still need to be made in the work environment so that being a woman isn’t viewed as a disadvantage or impediment to success. As Cintado pointed out, “The reality is, there are still fewer women in management roles and in government than men, but women are loyal and committed, and we make great workers.”
Cotter envisions a more equitable future. “I would love to see a day when it’s not a conversation of if you’re a male or you’re a female in the workplace; everyone is just a worker.”
Whether it be Butler and Cotter witnessing people try their products for the first time, Foshee seeing a light bulb go off for a girlfriend while they watch a football game, White’s stories resonating with readers, or Cintado achieving balance between a demanding career and active family, all of the women on the panel agreed that personal fulfillment walks hand-in-hand with professional success.
“Raising strong women and being a good mother– that’s the most important job I have,” said Cintado. “Do the best you can every day and you’ll have no regrets.”