Creating safe spaces through self-care: Pitt club works to empower women


Amaya Lobato | Staff Photographer

Zoe Frantz, Annabel Summo, Meg Anderson and Ananya Pathapadu of Empower Club in the Cathedral of Learning.

By Kendall Swift, Staff Writer

Pitt students Meg Anderson and Mia Nitekman felt a need for better self-care and safer spaces for women as they enter into the rigor of the workforce.

So they founded Empower, a club aiming to bridge the gap between self-care and safe spaces. The club works to help Pitt women with personal and professional development through offering free events and partnering with companies such as Bumble.

Anderson said she founded the club because she “wanted to create a safe space for women, especially to talk about issues that women face in the workplace.” Anderson said she chose to keep the club women-only to create a space where members can share their struggles.

“I felt that oftentimes, when there were men around, it prevents certain women from feeling comfortable speaking up,” Anderson, a junior finance and information systems major, said. “Some of the topics men wouldn’t relate to.”

To accomplish this, Anderson said the club frequently invites professional women to speak, such as Audrey Murrell, a professor of business administration at Pitt. While speakers can talk about whatever they feel is relevant, oftentimes speakers discuss the struggles women can face.

Zoe Frantz, a junior marketing major who serves as the club’s vice president for marketing, said speakers frequently talk about issues women face in the workplace.

“[The club and speakers] create a safe space for women to talk about issues that women face in the workplace, so a lot of the speakers that have come in, have touched on that and it’s been really great to hear,” Frantz said.

Besides speakers, the club also offers events such as workout classes, self-care nights and resume building. For events, the club teams up with companies such as Elevate — a workout facility in the Strip District — and Bumble, an app where users can make connections to date, become friends or network.

They also work with other Pitt clubs, such as Mind Sense, a meditation club, according to the club website. In the future, Anderson said they plan to work with the Fashion Business Association.

The club has held several events over the course of the semester and their last event for this spring is this Wednesday. They plan to hold a Zumba class in front of the William Pitt Union at 9:15 p.m. as a way to release stress before finals week. Events are free and open to all Pitt women, according to their website.

Anderson said they chose to make events free to make the club as accessible as possible.

“For some people, they wouldn’t be able to afford in college to pay hundreds of dollars to join something like a business fraternity or even just the business organizations themselves. Or even things like taking workout classes,” Anderson said. “Some people wouldn’t be able to do that, and it was really important to me that it be an equitable club where there’s no boundaries for anyone joining.”

Frantz said she was very excited when she joined the club earlier this semester. She said that she went to a small event with Anderson, where they spoke about the club, and she immediately felt that she wanted to get involved.

Frantz said she enjoys the club because she thinks “it’s the perfect club to go and try something new and get out of your comfort zone, which in and of itself is empowering.”

Stella Kaye, a first-year accounting student, was looking for a new club to join on campus. She said that as a business major, she was pushed to join business-related clubs. But she said she was happy to join Empower because it allowed her to be creative and offered opportunities for self-development.

Kaye said she enjoys the club for the same reason as Frantz.

“It’s really intimidating coming to college and leaving all your friends, so I thought that it was nice that I knew I was going to a club where it didn’t matter how I looked or what I said because everybody was always so nice and welcoming,” Kaye said. “I always knew that I had a nice group of girls behind me, supporting me, no matter what.”

Kaye said her favorite memory of the club was an activity where they created vision boards.

“I just really liked it because it was more creative and artsy and I feel like now that we’re in college, it’s harder to find a creative outlet,” Kaye said. “It was nice to see everybody being more creative.”

Anderson and Frantz said the group plans to continue being active in the fall and is already starting to plan upcoming events.

“We’re already talking about next semester, and how excited we are with upcoming stuff,” Frantz said.

Kaye said the club is important to her because of the support it provides.

“Sometimes we’re supposed to pretend like things don’t affect us and sexism doesn’t exist anymore, so women supporting women is one of the most important things,” Kaye said. “Sometimes we forget that comparison will destroy you, so I think it’s nice to have a club that’s just full of support.”