Panel discusses women as leaders, overcoming negative stereotypes

Paige Crawford and Paige Crawford

The 12-person group made of faculty, staff and students joined together Wednesday afternoon in an active discussion about women as leaders and the issues they face.

Members of the Center for Leadership and Dr. Julie Ann Snyder, associate dean of students and director of the Center for Leadership led the discussion.

Snyder kicked off the discussion with a list of the 10 most hated and pervasive stereotypes of women leaders according to www.forbes.com. Some of these included being called single and lonely, weak, conniving, emotional and a cheerleader.

“Due to the nature of society, it isn’t always that women think they aren’t capable  — it is that women think they cannot be or are suppose to be something else,” said Snyder.

Snyder also chatted about special topics chosen from the book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook.

Sandberg’s book listed a few points about women as leaders that the group reviewed: 21 of the Fortune 500 CEO’s are women, women hold 14 percent of executive officer positions, and Congress is 18 percent female.

Members from the audience voiced their opinions on the statistics and related them to life experiences.

Senior LaShaunda Brown, a 2013 Student Leadership Assistant decided to attend the event.

“The discussion was very insightful,” Brown said. “It was good to hear different perspectives from various female leaders on campus.”

Being in a leadership position on campus, Brown has seen the emergence of leaders rise in her past few years at BGSU.

Dr. Snyder called this generation of college women the “soccer generation.”

“Girls are becoming more involved in not only sports, but leadership roles in college and leadership roles throughout society. Women can have several tasks and be able to balance them all,” she said.

A question many of the women in the room wanted to know is why do women get treated this way if women are holding more and more leadership positions in society.

Dr. Snyder expressed that from birth mothers overestimate their sons’ ability to crawl and underestimate their daughters. They spend more time comforting and hugging infant girls and even allow their infant boys to play by themselves. “This epidemic is one that has been instilled in girls from ages one through five. These are the most important ages of learning for a child,” Snyder said.

A question that made some commotion during the brown bag discussion was “As a female in a leadership position, how do you get other females to respect you?”

Audience members gave several answers including the idea that a female in leadership must set standards as early as possible in order to help differentiate between business and friends. Also mentioned was the importance of empowering the females by giving them opportunities to do tasks, supporting them in those tasks and making the other women feel like they are valued as well.

Another topic discussed was the job of a mentor.

“A mentor is suppose to guide, listen, provide advice and be able to sponsor and advocate on your behalf when you aren’t in the room.”

Junior Student Leadership Assistant Anna Voinovich said being surrounded by so many role models from BGSU has been helpful in her college experience.

Having a female role model is crucial to freshman Jalyn Jones who is looking to establish her place in the BGSU leadership community.

“This discussion really got me thinking about making steps to reach out and join more organizations to become a female leader on campus,” Jones said.