Women in Leadership, 8:30 - 9:30 am

By Erin Timmons, Communications Staff

For the first time in history, both political parties have courted the idea of a woman in the position of nominee for the office of President of the United States. Are women finally reaching the ideal of equality pursued since the ratification of the 19th Amendment in August of 1920? We’ve still got a ways to go, conference presenters said on Monday.

“We’re over half the population, but less than 20 percent of us are represented in Congress,” Billie Jo Hamilton, director of financial aid at the University of South Florida, told attendees, at a Monday morning session. Marta Perez Drake, vice president for professional development for the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), and Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, associate vice chancellor of enrollment management at the University of California- Los Angeles, joined Hamilton in sharing what they’ve learned over the course of their careers that has helped them to move up the ladder as leaders.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Network. “Networking is about six degrees of separation and once you know your story, once you know what you want … start practicing that elevator speech,” Perez Drake recommended. “Start letting people know what it is you want to do.”
  • Find a mentor. “If you’ve done things that people have taken notice of, people will take you under their wing,” Perez Drake said. Accept their help and learn as much as you can from their success and their missteps.
  • Be a mentor. Pay it forward and help the next generation to benefit from your experience.
  • Be professionally active. Join a board, committee, or task force, either in the workplace or in your community. “Even if you don’t feel like you have enough experience, there’s always something you can contribute,” Perez Drake said. If you join committees and volunteer for task forces, you’ll learn to navigate politics, get built-in networking, and learn leadership skills. 
  • Learn how to negotiate. “Nine times out of 10 you won’t get want you want because you won’t ask for what you’re worth,” Copeland-Morgan said. Learn how to negotiate. “And it’s not just about salary,” Copeland-Morgan added. It’s important to be able to assert yourself. “If you’re not hearing ‘no’ enough, you’re not asking enough, and that’s really, really critical,” Perez Drake said. Women make 79 cents on the dollar compared to men, but one prevailing theory discussed in the session was that this, in part, is because women don’t ask for more money and often aren’t as comfortable negotiating.
  • Don’t own somebody else’s problems. You’ve likely got enough of your own! As a leader you need to inspire others to think creatively and critically to come up with solutions, Copeland-Morgan told attendees. Women are more likely than men to set aside what’s on their own plate to help others with their problems, Copeland-Morgan explained, but that can be a time suck and a hinderance on your own productivity. Encourage and empower your staff to come up with several solutions on their own and to narrow them down before coming to you.
  • Make sure you accept criticism. It’s always an opportunity to improve yourself. Try to get open an honest assessment of what skills you need to improve upon and what you can do better.


Publication Date: 7/11/2016

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