Through the Eisenhower Institute’s Women and Leadership program, I had the opportunity to listen and learn from accomplished women leaders. Though each speaker contributed their knowledge from vastly different career areas and personal experiences, they all praised the value of authentic leadership. Women and Leadership tasked me with finding my hypothetical tie as a woman entering the professional world. The phrase “finding my tie” evolves from the hyper-gendered professional dress code that deems men professional once they lace up their tie—but what is a woman’s “tie?”
Communication is possibly one of the most complex aspects of human society. At some point in time, groups of humans decided that a collections of sounds could be recorded and signified by letters, and then those sounds could work together to form words. From here, a language was born and has been evolving ever since, but not without its difficulties.
The Memo Every Woman Keeps in Her Desk presents a workplace dilemma on how to initiate change in an environment not conducive to complete equality and inclusion relating to gender. Moreover, it challenges the roots that initiate these sentiments and weighs the consequences of bringing these to light. It relates the general decision to speak up when suffering from gender-based offenses to whether or not the audience is ready to receive and modify the actions of society.
As an Environmental Studies and Biology double major, I was thrilled to see Rachel Carson’s mini-bio amongst the rest of the female leader bios. After hearing about Carson’s legacy in my classes and reading pieces from her work I have always admired her. I am especially impressed with the impact she had on society for making complex environmental theories or ideas very accessible to the public to share the urgency and necessity of taking care of the environment.
On our Women and Leadership trip to Washington DC over spring break, we visited the United States Supreme Court. After having a private tour of the Court, including a tour of the actual Courtroom, the women of our group stopped at the temporary exhibit about the first female Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor.
The chapter “Now What?” by Joan C. Williams and Suzanne Lebsock discusses the grave issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, along with how to take steps towards a healthier workplace environment. The authors start off by referencing the Harvey Weinstein case and they explain that it sparked several more similar accusations. Williams and Lebsock then go on to point out that this issue of sexual harassment is not a battle between men and women, rather it is “a fight over whether a small subgroup of predatory men should be allowed to interfere with people’s ability to show up and do what they signed up for : work” (Lebsock and Williams 120).
The feminist movement has been defined by three distinct waves of feminism, which cover a range of agendas and needs at verging intersections to influence change and progress ultimately demanding a fight for equality of the sexes in all aspects of life.
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.
“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.”