In Celebration of Women’s History Month (March), Let’s Honor the Exceptional Ways that Numerous Women Leaders have Contributed Immensely to our Society

Did you know?

  • Men out-rank women in U.S. faculty positions in academia
  • Women are more likely to be found in lower-ranking academic positions
  • 32.5% of women faculty are in non-tenure track positions compared to 19.6% of men faculty
  • Among tenured faculty, only 44% of women are married with children compared to 70% of men

Nevertheless, many women acquire imperative skills necessary to navigate through the complexities of ever-
changing environments that require strong and thoughtful leadership. It is promising that many women leaders adopt the following principles of optimistic leadership.

Principles of Optimistic Leadership

Insight: Awareness of Self and Empathy with Others. Learning self-reflection that includes an increasing awareness of one’s beliefs, values, and abilities, as well an increasing ability to understand and appreciate the beliefs, life experiences, and values of others.

Integrity: Ethical Leadership Principles and Practices. Offering fundamental principles and practices associated with ethical leadership skills, as well as developing congruence between one’s own values and one’s actions.

Synergy: Collaboration and Problem Solving. Demonstrating the ability to work cooperatively and effectively with others in ways that empower individuals by using gifts and contributions from all participants.

Purpose: Sharing a Commitment to Action. Developing the motivation to translate knowledge into action, foster buy-in and support, and to become actively involved in individual and collaborative efforts to foster personal and social change.

Impact: Purposeful Engagement and Citizenship. Promoting positive civic engagement and social responsibility through an ethic of service and a concern for justice.

Still, there are common stressors and issues that several women may experience at some point time during her

lifetime, which engenders a unique set of circumstances. Often it may require some level of resilience—the

ability to “bounce back” in the face of adversity. Some of the selected concerns include:

  • Work-Life Balance-pursuing advancement in one’s career while making quality time for family and/or
  • other personal responsibilities
  • Glass Ceiling Effect-gender based biases in recruitment, hiring, career advancement, promotion etc.
  • Gender Discrimination (actual and/or perceived)-a violation based on gender
  • Sexual Harassment-unwanted/unwelcomed physical sexual advances, requests, and/or verbal remarks of a sexual content/undertone
  • Workload and Role Overload-overwhelming expectations that could lead to workplace burnout

Despite various multifaceted matters, we need competent women leaders. This issue is reinforced by scientific literature that concludes the following:

  • Women leaders add value in diversity of perspectives (Warner, 2014; Boatman, et al., 2011)
  • Women leaders exemplify key behaviors that have a proven positive impact on organizational performance: inspiration, expectation and rewards, participative decision making, and intellectual stimulation (Desvaux and Devillard, 2008)
  • Women leaders have a better awareness of social contexts and cues (social sensitivity) resulting in groups with higher collective intelligence (Woolley, et al., 2010)

Women are remarkable at achieving multiple roles and related responsibilities—mother, wife, partner, sister, daughter, aunt, godmother, employer/employee, friend, church member, community activist etc. We are strong, persistent, and dedicated to ensuring that our families and communities flourish, while simultaneously demonstrating excellence in the workplace. It is amazing how we have survived and even thrived in many cases to unrelenting, atrocious, systemic historical, socio-political, economic, and environmental injustices. It is women (and several others) such as, Abolitionist Harriet Tubman, Attorney/Former First Lady Michelle Obama, Attorney/Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Feminist/Activist Gloria Steinem, Scholar/Journalist Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, Community Rights Activist Angela Davis, Media Mogul Shonda Rhimes, Cultural Icon/Performer Beyonce Knowles, Gymnast Kristi Yamaguchi, Cultural Anthropologist Dr. Johnetta B. Cole, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Chef Maneet Chauhan, Attorney Anita Hill, and Morehouse School of Medicine President & Dean Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice that continue to empower young women to believe that success is possible.

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences”
Audre Lourde ~ Writer, Feminist, Womanist, Poet, Civil Rights Activist

References

~Catalyst. Quick Take: Women in Academia. New York: Catalyst, July 9, 2015.
http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-academia
~http://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2002/10/gender-work-stress-and-health

~Boatman J, Wellins R, and Neal S. (2011). Women work: the business benefits of closing the gender gap.
http://www.ddiworld.com/ddi/media/trend-research/womenatworkgendergap_br_ddi.pdf

~Desvaux G and Devillard S. (2008). Women matter 2. http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/women-matter

Warner, J. (2014). Women’s leadership. What’s true, what’s false and why it matters.
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/report/2014/03/07/85467/womens-leadership/

~Woolley AW, Chabris CF, Pentland A, et al. (2010). Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of
human groups. Science. 330:686–8