Recently, a female colleague said that she believes that I had achieved my professional position because I am an attractive woman and work for male administrators. The (not-so-subtle) implication of this statement was that, as an attractive woman, I was given opportunities not afforded to others who she believes are better qualified than I am.
To be quite honest, I was shocked at this accusation. I would never classify myself as an attractive woman. I would describe myself as a runner, athletic, a feminist, an educator, a wife, a sister, a mother, an animal lover, and a laundry list of other adjectives…but never would I label myself as “attractive.” The idea of of using my appearance in an attempt to get ahead is ridiculous to me. I am the person running out the house at the last minute with a dryer sheet stuck to the arm of her blouse. I am so frugal that I only shop at second-hand clothing shops and that one red tag clearance rack at the back corner of the store. My husband is far more fashion forward than I am. In fact, he does all the ironing in our household as my skill level is not up to his standards, which is fine by me. I spray that magic wrinkle spray on myself and call it good enough. Most of my time outside of work is spent in running shoes and workout clothing. My beauty “routine” consists of my daughter’s baby oil, eczema cream, and prescription acne ointment from a dermatologist (yes, in my mid-30’s I am plagued by both acne and wrinkles). Those are certainly not the features that one would normally associate with “attractive.” Continue reading Feminism and the Alpha Female
by Adrianna Kezar
Leaders in student affairs have embraced new notions of leadership as collaborative, non-hierarchical, collective and focused on social justice and change. Well not everyone, but certainly I find leaders in student affairs strongly align with new ideas about leadership embodied in models such as Helen Astin’s social change model of leadership or Allen and Cherrey’s systemic leadership. And, not surprisingly, it is research on effective women leaders that was used to create new conceptions of leadership.
Unfortunately, as women are entering positions of authority on college campuses, the environment is changing markedly and is becoming much more corporate and market-driven in orientation. The pressure to compete comes from the global economy in which a more capitalist orientation is seen as preferable and essential for success in the coming decades. Continue reading Women’s Leadership in a New Era
by Jennifer R. Keup
Mentorship is almost ubiquitous in the leadership literature. Find yourself a good mentor and you will receive sage advice, have a strong advocate in your field, enjoy a ready reference from an influential professional, and gain entrance to rooms and conversations that are normally reserved for those at levels above your own. By association, your mentors will allow you to taste the nectar of top-shelf leadership roles and try on the trappings of your next professional positions. The formula for finding professional mentors is also pretty established: find someone you admire in your field who occupies a position a few rungs above you on the professional ladder and ask for their guidance. The potential mentor will be flattered by your invitation, identifies you as someone worthy of investment, and you ride off in to the sunset of mentorship bliss. Perfect, no?
In my experience: not always.
This traditional model of leadership causes professionals, especially women, to view a mentor much like a savior or a hero in a fairy tale. As Sheryl Sandberg says:
We all grew up on…“Sleeping Beauty,” which instructs young women that if they just wait for their prince to arrive, they will be kissed and whisked away on a white horse to live happily ever after. Now young women are told that if they can just find the right mentor, they will be pushed up the ladder and whisked away to the corner office to live happily ever after.
In my own experience, I have generally followed the traditional rules and searched up the professional ladder for my mentors. However, as I have progressed in my career, my professional advancement has left me with a pool of far fewer individuals above me from which to select a mentor. Continue reading Modern Mentorship: Look Laterally