8 Women, 8 Different Ways to Lead with AAUWMarch 23, 2016
As our research report Barriers and Bias: The Status of Women in Leadership highlights, men vastly outnumber women in leadership positions, from board rooms to executive suites to the Hill. Changing the face of leadership is beyond the scope of any one program, but AAUW is working to change that imbalance through a plethora of programs that support women from middle school all the way through retirement.
Check out these eight AAUW stars who are proving that women can be powerful leaders on campus and beyond. The face of leadership doesn’t have to be male.
1. Gaining confidence at NCCSWL
Blossom Brown, an active member of the AAUW student organization at Mississippi University for Women, attended the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) in 2015. “I became more empowered to fight for trans women’s rights,” she says of her experience. The country’s premier leadership conference for college women, NCCWSL provides a transformative experience for attendees and prepares them to be the next generation of leaders.
2. Changing the conversation with an AAUW Campus Action Project grant
In 2015, Bree Best, a student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, helped start a poster campaign to reaffirm the strength and diversity of women of color on her campus. The AAUW CAP project, titled Telling Our Stories: I’m Not/I Am, went on to inspire dozens of graphics, a Tumblr site, and more. And Best presented the project to a packed room at NCCWSL, sparking a dialogue about shared experiences with racism and sexism that created a sense of community among the attendees.
3. Running for office with Elect Her
Molly Rockett attended her first Elect Her workshop during her freshman year at the University of Connecticut. Elect Her encourages and trains college women to run for student government and future political office. “The biggest thing I took away from Elect Her was that I didn’t have to wait until I gained more ‘experience’ to participate in local government and to assume leadership roles,” says Rockett. At just age 20, Rockett became a resident adviser on campus, president of the College Democrats, and an elected member of the Board of Education in her hometown of Somers, Connecticut.
4. Growing a professional network with the AAUW National Student Advisory Council
Shannon Cholakian is an unstoppable SAC member from Santa Clarita Valley, California. She started her university’s first Queer Identity Advocacy Scholarship for students who identify within the LGBT spectrum and serves on her school’s President’s Commission on the Status of Women. SAC members serve as AAUW ambassadors, advise AAUW staff on the needs of college students, and lead gender equality projects on their campuses.
5. Gaining community leadership through AAUW branches
Penney Hoodenpyle, founding member of the AAUW of Oregon Online Branch, harnessed her leadership skills when her branch was on the verge of disbanding. She organized the women of the branch to develop an online model so that they could continue to gather under the AAUW mission. With 1,000 branches around the country, AAUW relies on volunteers like Hoodenpyle to organize and lead on behalf of women and girls in their community. Hoodenpyle went on to co-chair the AAUW National Membership Committee and advise staff on how to grow membership around the country.
6. Getting empowered in STEM with AAUW Tech Trek
Ellen Le attended an AAUW of California Teck Trek camp for girls in 2004. She describes her experience at the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) camp as “this amazing environment where I felt supported and empowered to be the best that I could be in the science and math fields.” AAUW research has shown that exposing girls to opportunities and role models early on is just one of the many ways to move the needle for women in leadership and STEM. Le went on to graduate from Stanford University with a degree in chemical engineering, worked for a start-up company for two years, and now attends Harvard Business School.
7. Continuing education with AAUW fellowships
“The simple truth is that it is expensive to be poor,” says Joyce Kim, a 2003–04 AAUW Selected Professions Fellow and the founder of the nonprofit Stellar. After receiving her law degree from Columbia with the help of her AAUW fellowship, Kim founded Stellar to help immigrants save money on their remittances (money transfers sent by workers to their home countries). The idea for Stellar could have been applied to a for-profit enterprise, but Kim, a daughter of immigrants, focused on improving circumstances for disadvantaged and immigrant communities instead.
8. Leading on campus through AAUW student organizations
Students involved in founding and volunteering with more than 80 AAUW student organizations lead the women’s movement on their campuses. As president of the AAUW student organization at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania, Theresa Johnson has credited the organization with helping her stay motivated as a student parent and find a safe place to continue developing as a leader.
Why do men still vastly outnumber women in leadership positions?
AAUW’s newest research report, Barriers and Bias: The Status of Women in Leadership, explores this question, and provides recommendations change the climate.
Sign up to get the report
This post was written by AAUW Website Production Intern Alexandra Braxton.