The Women in Leadership course elevates women leaders worldwide



New University of Iowa course encourages students to overcome barriers to gender equality.

Gabby Drees

Mazahir Salih poses for a portrait in his office at the Center for Worker Justice in Iowa City on Monday, October 11, 2021.

The majority of respondents to a survey of the Women’s Forum for Economy and Society stated that women have less access to leadership positions and equal salary levels, although they may have the same levels of experience or skills as men in the same positions.

A new course at the University of Iowa, Women in Leadership, aims to reduce these disparities and equip students with the tools to take on leadership roles and uplift women who have excelled in leadership around the world.

“I wanted us to look at the global situation of women, and not just focus on business – on all leaders,” said Nancy Millice, adjunct user interface instructor.

The curriculum for the Women in Leadership course stated that the course would focus on “exploring the barriers and challenges faced by women in leadership as female students explore their own leadership, and how people of all genders can work to overcome these obstacles to gender equality”.

Millice created the course with emerging leaders in mind, she said.

“I don’t really want to teach a leadership course without including some type of leadership skills for the people taking the course,” Millice said.

The course includes texts by authors such as Stacey Abrams, Julia Gillard, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julie Owen. Projects and readings in the course allow students to seek out women in leadership from diverse backgrounds, some of whom weren’t on most people’s radars, Millice said.

She said only women took the first semester of the course, but the course is open to all students.

“I think it can be a safe place with men too, because one thing we’re emphasizing … is that men are part of the solution,” Millice said.

Mazahir Salih, executive director of the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, said having women of color in leadership positions can be an inspiration to other women of color. But they need to be given the resources to succeed in those positions, she said.

“Give them the support tools so they can continue their work. And it’s not just women who are in leadership positions – women in any workplace,” Salih said. “For example, at the government level, whether they work for the county or for the city, whether they are leaders or something like that, they have to be given the support tool to retain them and let them continue.”

RELATED: New student organization wants more women in business

Other on-campus programs that help advance women include the Women in Business student organization and the Iowa Women’s Leadership Network alumni organization.

Cindy Roehr, president of the Iowa Women’s Leadership Network, said the organization, which was founded two and a half years ago, was created to uplift former Unemployment Insurance students in their lives after graduation. of their degree.

“Her purpose is to try to unify women graduating from the University of Iowa and help us help each other become better and stronger women in our careers, in our lives, and to help lift everyone so they can just have a better life,” Roehr said.

Roehr said the diversity of perspectives within leadership is invaluable.

“I think it’s important to include everyone in the conversation because we all have different life experiences and we all have different challenges ahead of us,” Roehr said. “If you don’t know and understand these challenges and appreciate what people are going through, you can’t help them improve and make the world a better place.”

Cami Hunter, president of UI Women in Business, said the Women in Business organization strives to elevate diverse perspectives by providing professional development, mentorship opportunities, and accessibility to a variety of resources.

Hunter said leadership should challenge the status quo while creating an atmosphere where those with different experiences feel comfortable and respected.

“It goes more into: How do we start to foster that or cultivate that respect and appreciation, rather than just saying, ‘OK, well, we’ve got a female leader,'” Hunter said. “We should also defend and respect her as a woman leader as well. I think that’s where maybe a lot of work needs to be done.

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