Kick Doors Open, But Be Sure to Leave a Doorstop

By Kellie Hale

When I organized/planned the first Women in Leadership Forum back in 2015, I originally thought it was going to be a one-time forum. Thankfully, the positive response from attendees indicated that the Forum needed to be a yearly event. Therefore, for the past four-years, the Center has put on an annual Woman in Leadership Forum on different topics such as politics, technology, and HSEM. This year’s Forum theme will be agriculture, particularly how women are the new faces of American farming and the trials and tribulations they face.

History has shown us how women faced (and in some ways continue to do so) large barriers in terms of success compared to men. Such barriers are pay gaps, unfair advancements in opportunities, along with lack of representation when it comes to important decision-making.

Women are half of the world’s population, but we still are not seeing equal participation in leadership roles.

When women are giving the chance to lead, certain values and concerns come into focus such as harassment in the workplace, separations of labor, pay inequality, and lack of advancement in gaining new opportunities. These values and concerns often reflect the experiences women have encountered in their personal and professional lives. It is disappointing that these types of issues women face do not come to focus or are dealt with when women are not in leadership positions.

It is not enough to have women in leadership positions, but to encourage women to begin the path on how to fulfill their dreams. Seeing women take on leadership roles allows other women, whether young or old, gives them an idea of what it looks like and that it is possible to achieve the unexpected.

Another reason why some women do not strive for leadership goals is that there are few female role models to look up to or emulate. The Center has worked to develop a mentor/mentee program for Women in Leadership. However, it has taken a few trials and tribulations in the development of this program. Through feedback from attendees at one of our networking event last June explained that when it comes to social media and staying in contact, LinkedIn is the better and more professional route. The goal for our Women in Leadership page on LinkedIn is provide a secure place where women can speak directly with one another to ask questions, offer advice, gain new contacts, and demonstrate a strong commitment to helping one another.

It is important for women to, not only kick doors open, but to put a doorstop in the door and tell others to go through. The different perspectives and principles women bring to the table are valuable and can have a positive impact to an organization and others when given the chance to be heard.