By Kristina Dolak, Staff Reporter

According to the Prudential Research Study, 95 percent of family financial decisions are made by women. But when compared to men, women have less self-confidence in their capabilities, according to Director of Alumni Relations Ann Harding.

To help women gain the confidence they need in the workplace, the Women’s Council will host the annual Council for IWU Women 2012 Summit on Friday, Feb. 24 and Friday, Feb. 25. 40 council members are “giving up their time, talent and resources because they are committed to helping the students out,” Harding said.

The council consists of alumnae from a range of different occupations and ages. Some are in positions to hire new employees, and others can give insight on what employers look for and what they themselves did to find employment.

But the alumnae are ultimately participating because “they want to encourage women to aim higher,” Harding said.

“The council’s purpose for coming is to meet the women here. They’re excited to get to know you and they want to help you out,” Harding said. “So if you hold back, you’re missing out.”

Harding encourages students to talk to the alumnae and sit with them at lunch.“Don’t just sit with a group of students, intermix with the alumnae, start to build your network,” Harding said.

In the past, female students have gained mentors, internships and connections they would never have achieved if they did not go.

“Networking can be intimidating, but this event gives women a chance to experience it,” said Robyn Walter, a career consultant at the Hart Career Center.

All the events allow time to network and practice talking to new people. On both Friday and Saturday, the summit provides a free lunch for students, faculty and alumnae. Both luncheons will feature a speaker and on Saturday four scholarships will be awarded.

At 4 p.m. on Friday, a “Mock-tail School” will be in session, demonstrating how to network during Happy Hour. An actual Happy Hour follows the lesson in which students can use the skill they just learned while talking to council members.

Students who are still uncomfortable talking with strangers after the “Mock-tail School” should know that “not all the alumnae have type ‘A’ personalities. Some are shy and as awkward as you, but after a while the awkwardness goes away,” Harding said.

Melissa Mara, a 2010 graduate, said, “I wish I had gone more than once. Everyone there was really nice and talking to people gets a lot easier as time goes on.”

As of Tuesday, 119 students have signed up for Friday’s lunch, 62 for the mock interviews and 87 for lunch on Saturday, with more occuring, The number of students attending already exceeds the past three years’ attendance.

“I’ve been going to the Council for IWU Women for the past two years and I absolutely treasure it, both as a resource to learn valuable job and life skills, and also as an extremely reaffirming environment for any woman at Wesleyan,” said former president of the IWU Feminist Club Katie Rose Brosnan.

Reservations for the events are now closed, but students are still encouraged to go to the Peace Corps  speaker on Friday at 3 p.m. and the different information sessions on Saturday from 10 to 11:45 a.m.

Said President of Sigma Kappa, sophomore accounting major Katarina Jastrab, of the Summit: “I have the chance to make connections and learn to be successful in the future, there’s nothing bad about that.”