Within the walls of the Grand Salon Wednesday night, June Werdlow Rogers, PhD, spoke to CSUN students about how to optimize their future working experience in what is often a gender-biased world.
Rogers, a retired DEA Special Agent in Charge, spoke to a mostly-female audience of 25 about the challenges she faced as an African-American woman working in a male-dominated profession.
“I realized very early on in my career, that if I were to do some of the things my male colleagues did, I was not likely to get away with it,” Rogers said. “I had to operate in a very narrow corridor.”
Rogers’ book, “Cracking the Double Standard Code: A Guide to Successful Navigation in the Workplace” was published earlier this year, and free copies were given to the first 20 guests to arrive.
This is Rogers’ second book. The first, “Becoming Ethically Marketable: A Guide for Criminal Justice Majors and Recruits” was published in 2005.
At the lecture, she doled out advice on professional behavior, including office romances, gossip, and the dangers involved with making personal lives public on social networking sites.
Rogers told a number of stories from her 28 years in law enforcement and encouraged audience members to share personal anecdotes as well.
One of the women in the audience, junior Nupur Kumar, 20, gave her opinion on why it’s difficult for women to work together, through what she’s learned working for on-campus housing.
“When I work with a male, it’s more chill, we can get more ideas out, and we can talk about more things,” said Kumar, a business HR managment major. “With female people in housing, it’s very to the point sometimes, and we don’t get to talk about things as much as we need to.”
While Rogers agreed women who work together have disagreements, she emphasized that men have just as many disputes, and said both genders have to compromise and work with their coworkers on all issues.
“It comes down to a commitment, that I’m going to try everything I can to keep the peace in the workplace,” Rogers said.
The night was full of information intermingled with audience activities, such as a quiz on workplace statistics, and a faux game show, in which participants received prizes for correct answers.
Rogers’ husband, Rayfield Rogers, was the announcer for the night, and ran the visual presentation with music during her lecture.
“The main reason I wanted to dance in is so you all could see why it was necessary for me to get a job in law enforcement, or something that didn’t involve dancing or singing!” she said, after shuffling up to the stage for her opening statements.
Debra L. Hammond, USU Executive Director, invited Rogers to speak at CSUN after she read Rogers’ latest book and wrote an endorsement for the back cover.
“When you write something, it’s almost like a love-hate relationship,” Rogers said. “One minute you read it, and you’re like, ‘This is the best thing since sliced bread,’ and the next you’re like, ‘This is garbage! No one’s going to want it!’”
Yet once Rogers started getting positive feedback for the book, she knew that women were identifying with it.
Junior Jessica Williams, a psychology major, said the lecture was eye-opening and inspiring, and walked away with two things: a new understanding of how to succeed and one of Rogers’ new books.
“It was empowering for women minorities, in general, to step it up and know that you can be at the top,” said the 22-year-old.