From a young age, I have received a lot of support from my parents, teachers, coaches, and peers in becoming a leader. I am privileged in that I have not faced any grand obstacle that has prevented me from success. Instead, it is the smaller moments of prejudice that lead me to self-doubt and confusion. The feeling of being lost in my leadership has been a consistent experience in my development as a leader. For that reason, I believe that in their essay Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership, Eagly’s and Carli’s description of the challenges of leadership as a woman as a labyrinth rather than a glass ceiling, is very fitting.
Coming into this program focused on women and leadership, I knew I would share a perspective which differs from the majority of my peers mainly due to my sexuality: I identify as a gay woman. While reading, my sexuality became incredibly pertinent. For example, when reading about leadership styles of men and women, I felt myself identifying more so with the leadership traits associated with masculinity. However, the Demands of Family Life section truly and most apparently gave me a perspective which I have never had to consider.
Prior to spring break, I embarked on a tour of the town of Gettysburg as part of the Eisenhower Institute’s Eisenhower in Gettysburg program. Instead of a tour focused on the Civil War or Battle of Gettysburg, National Park Service Ranger Alyce Evans from the Eisenhower National Historic Site guided us on a tour which emphasized places that had ties to Ike.
“It conveys the idea of a complex journey toward a goal worth striving for. Passage through a labyrinth is not simple or direct, but requires persistence, awareness of one’s progress, and a careful analysis of the puzzles that lie ahead.”
The first chapter of the book On Women and Leadership confirmed most of the things I believed were true. I remember when I was younger, I dressed like a tomboy. Nobody around me understood why I liked the things I liked, being a girl. Instead of being with my older sister, I would always be with my younger brother. We were closer in age and had similar interests. He liked playing video games and so did I. He liked riding bikes and running around the park without caring about getting dirt on his shoes. So did I.