Women in Leadership course uplifts female leaders around the world

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University of Iowa’s new 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.


A majority of respondents to a survey of the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society said women have less access to managerial positions and equal pay 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 positions 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 limit ourselves to business – all leaders,” said Nancy Millice, IU assistant instructor.

The Women in Leadership course syllabus stated that the course will focus on “exploring the barriers and challenges faced by women in leadership as 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 new 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 from authors such as Stacey Abrams, Julia Gillard, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julie Owen. The course’s projects and readings allow students to seek out female leaders from a variety of backgrounds, some of whom were not on most people’s radar, Millice said.

She said that 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 as well, because one thing we emphasize… is 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 be successful in these positions, she said.

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

RELATED: New student organization wants more women in business

Other on-campus programs that aid in the advancement of 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 formed two and a half years ago, was created to uplift UI alumni in their lifetimes after graduation. diploma.

“Her goal is to try to unify female University of Iowa graduates and to help each other help each other become better and stronger women in our careers, in our lives, and to help everyone. world to rise up so they can just have better lives, ”Roehr said.

Roehr said that the diversification 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, mentoring 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’s more along the lines of how do you start fostering that or cultivating that respect and appreciation, rather than just saying ‘OK, well, we have a female leader,'” said Hunter. “We should also stand up for her cause and respect her as a leader as well. I think this is where maybe there is a lot of work to be done.


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