Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘women and leadership’

reshma_saujaniReshma Saujani was born in the United States to Ugandan refugee parents fleeing Idi Amin’s violent dictatorship. Her parents’ experiences in Uganda triggered a personal concern in Saujani for the welfare of Americans; she wanted to ensure that citizens had a political voice as well as economic opportunities. And that’s just what she did!

Saujani is a former deputy public advocate for New York City and the former executive director of the Fund for Public Advocacy. During her time in public office she promoted civic engagement and government accountability. By taking the lead on projects that aimed to increase citywide job and economic growth, engaging with immigrant communities, supporting small businesses, and improving education. Saujani made sure she could improve the quality of life for New Yorkers.

But Saujani also takes the time to empower girls through Girls Who Code, a nonprofit she founded with the mission to educate, inspire, and equip girls ages 13–18 with the skills and resources necessary to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Her organization works to fill the gender gap within the STEM fields and give girls the courage and support to take on these areas where they are often discouraged.

Saujani is a woman who cannot be stopped: a public servant, a leader, a role model, and an inspiration. She has given back to her community and leads with a vision that is bigger than herself. Her investment in bettering the lives of girls by encouraging them that they can do whatever they set their minds to pushes me to do more too. Saujani’s actions demonstrate what a leader should be. She leads for others. She leads selflessly and with passion.

With her upcoming book, Women Who Don’t Wait in Line, she advocates for women to support each other and step outside of boundaries that society has deemed normal for women. I am extremely excited to meet her at this year’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL). I look forward to listening to her empowering words and learning about her journey. I look up to Saujani, and she encourages me to move forward without fear of failure and to embrace and support other women around me. She is indeed a motivator.

Meet Saujani, a 2013 Woman of Distinction, at NCCWSL 2013! What will you be eager to ask her?

Editors’ note: In an earlier version, we erroneously stated that Saujani was herself a refugee from Uganda. In fact, she is the daughter of political refugees and was born in the United States.

This post was written by AAUW Leadership Programs Intern Nzinga Shury.

Read Full Post »

Today we release the fourth and final video in our giving season series. Each story featured a woman touched by AAUW — our mission, our programs, and our members. I had the distinct honor of interviewing the three women who shared their stories; it was one of the best projects I’ve worked on here because it was all about these women’s lives and how AAUW touches them.

In our first video, AAUW Senior Researcher Christi Corbett shared what inspires her to work for AAUW: Her mother, a woman who gets every question right on Jeopardy, never had the support she needed to achieve her full potential. Thanks to Christi’s research, we have a better understanding of what today’s moms need to be empowered, whether it’s fair pay or renewed efforts to combat stereotypes.

Our second video features AAUW member Kathy Kelm, who is also the president of the AAUW Action Fund’s Lobby Corps. After working tirelessly on Capitol Hill to stop cuts to Pell Grants and other college affordability programs, Kathy learned that a woman co-worker was leaving her job to go back to school — thanks to a Pell Grant. Moments like these remind Kathy, and indeed the entire AAUW community, that our advocacy matters to the people in our lives.

I interviewed Maureen Evans Arthurs for our third video. Full disclosure: Maureen and I are old friends.

Each time we meet, she tells me of her latest adventures, each one always more impressive than the last. Here is a mother, a wife, and a first-generation college student who is pursuing her dreams at full speed. And of course, she’s just one of the inspiring members of AAUW’s 2012–13 National Student Advisory Council. Many young women get on the fast track thanks to AAUW’s leadership programs, and Maureen is living proof of that.

The giving season series comes full circle with the last video, which features Christi once more. We made this video our final story because it’s about the people who are most important to AAUW — our members. Every day, we are amazed and inspired by the women and men who keep this work going. We cannot thank you enough, but we’re going to try with this final giving season message.

 

Many thanks for all you do.

Read Full Post »

Image courtesy of Barbara Romzek“Be flexible; what works today may not work tomorrow.”

Barbara Romzek believes this motto can apply to anyone’s career and life plans. Certainly, it is one that she herself has lived by. When Romzek received an AAUW American Fellowship in 1978, she had already learned the importance of being open to change. Describing her academic career as an “evolutionary process,” Romzek changed her research focus while she was a student during the Cold War. She switched from a comparative study of the challenges that U.S. and Soviet government employees face in balancing personal lives with public sector jobs to an exclusive focus on government employees in the United States. Concerns about accessing reliable data and being able to have open and honest conversations, given the tense political situation, prompted her to concentrate on the United States.

Romzek credits her AAUW fellowship with allowing her to dedicate a year to writing, which she says made for a better dissertation and ultimately a better job. That extra year became pivotal for her career path. After completing her doctorate, Romzek began teaching at the University of Kansas School of Public Affairs and Administration, an opportunity she sees as being directly tied to her research and fellowship.

Becoming an administrator was not something Romzek had planned. After more than a decade of teaching, she reluctantly accepted her department’s chair position. For years, Romzek’s research had been in public administration, so the new job was almost like field work. It did not take long before Romzek discovered that she found the job intellectually and personally rewarding. From there she continued to rise through university administration. Last summer, she left Kansas to move to Washington, D.C., to be the new dean of the School of Public Affairs at American University.

With all her responsibilities as dean and professor, Romzek still finds time to publish academic articles and contribute to books. Until recently, her writing focused on formal accountability in public administration, which has to do with balancing responsiveness and efficiency while doing your best at work and being a well-rounded person overall — no small task for employees. Lately, Romzek has been writing about informal accountability between government contractors who are not required to work together but should. For example, contractors in social services like foster care and mental health agencies do not have to consult each other, but it is in the best interest of a child in their care that they do communicate. After a career of research and work in public administration, Romzek is still intrigued by the subject and continues to write about it.

According to Romzek, everyone should “develop a plan that allows you go get to the life you want, but be flexible with your goals along the way.” Life is all about hard work, perseverance, direction, and flexibility. The combination has been successful for Romzek. She proves that dedication, passion, and a willingness to adapt make for an impressive path.

Romzek’s American Fellowship was sponsored by the Florence Edna Rowe American Fellowship, an endowment created by AAUW of Texas in 1964.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Emily McGranachan.

Read Full Post »

This June will mark the 25th anniversary of the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL). The conference, to be held June 3–5, is an inspiration to women student leaders who aspire to change their campuses and communities. This conference is the chance of a lifetime for young women who are seeking ways to improve their leadership skills, meet other women who share their enthusiasm, and, perhaps best of all, discover new role models. Past NCCWSL attendees have been transfixed by the speeches of noteworthy women such as Melanne Verveer, Zainab Salbi, and Tammy Duckworth.

This anniversary event gives us the opportunity to consider what women have experienced over the last 25 years as well as the remaining barriers and roadblocks. More importantly, it is an opportunity to look forward to the further the advancement of women and girls and to the ways that we will be able to change society in the future. Which women will lead in the military? Which will excel in science and technology? How will women, who make up nearly half of today’s workforce, attain work-life balance?

I’m encouraged by the strides women have made over the past 25 years:

  • In 1985, there were only two female senators in the U.S. Congress ─ Paula Fickes Hawkins (R-FL) and Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-KS). Today, that number has jumped to 18.
  • In 1985, 51 percent of graduate students in degree-granting institutions were women. In 2010, women will make up 59 percent of graduate students.
  • In 2010, we are projected to comprise almost half (48 percent) of the U.S. workforce, a small but steady progression from 45 percent in 1985.

I have, however, been disheartened to find out how far away women still are from filling the leadership gap. According the White House Project Benchmarking Women’s Leadership report, only 18 percent of leadership positions in the United States are held by women on average, and even fewer are held by women of color.

If you take a look back to 25 years ago in women’s history ─ back to the beginning of NCCWSL ─ you may find some interesting differences. So tell us, what do you think are the most surprising stats for women (better or worse) from 1985 to today?

Read Full Post »