March is Women’s History Month, a time to honor the societal contributions made by women throughout history. Accordingly, members of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, a campus-based chapter of the Feminist Majority Foundation, hosted the first in a series of events entitled “Strong Women in Non-Traditional Roles” Monday.
The goal of the series is to offer young women the chance to connect with other women who can serve as role models for them as they enter into a male-dominated
workforce, said FMLA adviser Abbe Forman.
Carrie Reilly, an officer of FMLA said, “These are the leaders of our university. “Listening to the path of how they got to their leadership position can inspire other women,” Reilly added.
Concetta Stewart, dean of the School of Communications and Theater, legal studies professor Terry Halbert and university President Dr. Ann Weaver Hart to discuss their leadership experiences in traditionally male-oriented
Forman said that every time a woman assumes a non-traditional role, the glass ceiling disappears and takes away some of the fear and stigma sometimes felt by women in the workplace. Known for her strengths in interdisciplinary teaching
and theme-oriented courses, Halbert was apointed director of General Education in 2005.
She said she believes that women, still an underrepresented group at the high levels in business, including education, have had to become adept at networking, work sharing, listening, questioning, and even gossiping to move closer to where they want to be.
“This is the stuff we’ve cultivated because we had to. It’s a source of expertise,” Halbert said in an earlier interview.
“The 21st century needs the kind of leadership that can bring a broad range of abilities, the kind that supports inclusion and creativity.
“It’s possible that women have had more practice at this. A strictly bureaucratic and hierarchical style is too limiting,” Halbert continued.
Prior to becoming dean of the School of Communications and Theater, Stewart chaired the Teaching, Learning and Technology roundtable, which was established in 1994 by the provost and the Council of Deans to address the integration of new technology into the learning process.
“The closer you are to the frontline [money] the fewer women you see. Women are not moving into leadership positions because there is a lack of role models,” Stewart said. Kara Martinson can relate. “My mom is a housewife and I didn’t have too many role models growing up,” the junior communications major said. “This is an incredible opportunity to meet strong women leaders, sharing their life stories of how high you can go academically,” Martinson said.
Hart, the university’s first female president has been actively involved in leadership roles throughout her career and has been recognized for her achievements by the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation. She said she hopes to be a role model for both male and female students on campus, as leadership isn’t gender specific. Her theme for the meeting was “Song and Celebration.”
“Be confident and persistent in using your strengths and graciously move forward to achieve your goals.
“Don’t be deterred,” Hart said.
Kenyatta A.N. Joseph can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.