UPDATED — For the first 24 hours after analyst James Chung's talk Monday about the state of Wichita, business consultant Jill Miller was convinced she needed to leave the city.
"I feel like I've woken up from a longtime abusive relationship to find out that things are never going to change," Miller says.
What upset her most was information on the pay gap for women and how it's worse in Wichita than it is nationally.
"I knew that things were hard for women in business in Wichita, but that data smacked me in the face," Miller says. "The numbers are the numbers. It wasn't just a perception. It is the data."
By hour 25, though, she says, "I decided to turn anger into power."
Miller and Britten Kuckelman, director of academic support and information services at WSU Tech, are convening a panel of businesswomen on June 28 to begin a discussion on how to change things for women in business in Wichita.
"What I'm hoping is that it is the beginning of a conversation," she says. "I don't see this as a one-time thing."
Nor does she see it as a problem for only women to address. Men are invited as well.
Reservations are required for the discussion, which will be from 7 p.m. to about 8:30 p.m. at 340 S. Main, where Miller's Finishing School for Modern Women is. A $5 fee will go to a yet-to-be-determined organization that supports women.
Reservations are available at www.finishingschoolformodernwomen.com.
Panelists include Alicia Sanchez, chairwoman of the Wichita Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and director of Wichita State University's Office of Diversity and Inclusion; Alicia Holloway, president of the Wichita Independent Business Association; Angie Prather, vice president of marketing and communications for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce; Christina Long, CLM Collective owner; and Tami Bradley, Bothner and Bradley partner and Wichita Community Foundation board member.
Miller says there are a lot of factions working separately in the community.
"If we could all come together, we could do so much more."
She's still considering moving, though.
"It's just disheartening when you see that your 20 years of work really isn't making a dent."
Miller wants the panel to focus on concrete changes.
"We don't want to ... bemoan what the current reality is," she says. "We want to come up with solutions."