Women’s leadership challenges come from both genders

As a part of Women’s Week 2004-themed, “Women in Leadership: Shaping the Future”-a campus and community panel held March 3 in the Marriott Library featured female speakers addressing new paradigms facing on woman.

“We’ve got a lot of skilled leaders here, a lot of women with power,” said Theresa Martinez, a U sociology professor, special assistant to the senior vice president for academic affairs and the panel’s moderator.

The panel’s goal was to celebrate and analyze the views of the speakers regarding their experiences as women leaders dealing with gender equity.

One of the issues that the panelists were most passionate about was the lack of salary equity for women.

“Women on campus…don’t see equity in leadership,” Martinez said.

The panel also took time to honor a female leader and former Utah Senator.

“We dedicate [this year’s] Women’s Week to the memory of Frances Farley,” said Karen Shepherd, former 2nd District congresswoman.

Farley was the first female elected senator in Utah.

“She accomplished the most outstanding leadership in the state of Utah,” Shepherd said. “We have a great deal to thank her for.”

Accepting the award on behalf of his recently deceased mother, Kip Farley addressed his mother’s battle with sexism in the political arena.

“Voters were scared-they were afraid to have a woman. My mother represented them,” Farley said.

Shepherd agreed. However, she also said that women play a role in their own lack of equity.

“My biggest barrier was internal…I had a very hard time coming to the point where I believed it. I think that that’s a common thing with women…not to really have confidence in what they do,” she said.

Ruby Chacon, a local Hispanic artist, said she had similar experience with “people telling me I couldn’t do things…people who didn’t know who I was and didn’t think I could succeed. I believed what other people told me.”

Joanne Milner, community and secondary education activist, said that much of the discouragement women in leadership face comes from other women.

Milner associated many of these instances of discouragement with ingrained gender stereotypes.

“[Some of my] greatest critics have been women, not men, because I wasn’t behaving like a ‘good girl’ [when assuming leadership roles],” Milner said.

“If you’re a pleaser above all things, you won’t make it in the highest levels of leadership. This [trying to please] is more true of women than men. We were all taught to be good girls,” Shepherd said.

The panelists also addressed the problem of balancing life as a leader, a woman and a mother.

“Finding a way to balance that-graduate school, children-you miss the chance to realize you’re doing well,” said Ann Hart, University of New Hampshire president.

“You need to be able to be aware of your strengths, not to give up, to demand the right to achieve a good life and to reach your full potential,” Hart said.

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