Last week, I was fortunate to meet up with a number of friends and colleagues at OLC Innovate (#OLCInnovate if you’ve been learning from the backchannel) in New Orleans. There’s a great deal I have to reflect upon about my conference experience; however that will be saved for later. What I do hope to share a bit about is the Conversations that Work session on Women Who Innovate in Higher Education: Challenges & Strategies. During this session, we hosted a few small-group discussions prompted by questions we shared: http://bit.ly/olcinnovate3Wedu16
— Kyle Johnson (@kyleejohnson) April 21, 2016
For those of you who joined the 45-minute conversation, THANK YOU. By starting and continuing the conversations, I think we have already left this gathering with more solutions than challenges for women in higher education. These round-table conversations were great! I was fortunate to facilitate one of the 6 tables/circles who shared insights and experiences of women in higher ed. I appreciate the openness and thoughtfulness shared by the participants — specifically with regards to sharing challenges and suggestions to move more ladies forward at our institutions and within the field. To be fully engaged in the conversation, I jotted down some notes pen-to-paper style. Here are a few highlights I can translate from my scribble, which might be interesting to dig into tomorrow (4/27) or in future #3Wedu podcasts:
- Education qualifications & Work Experiences: Do women require a Ph.D. vs. men who only have a masters degree? Or do women believe they have to “do more” to prove ourselves? This might include additional work experience(s), degrees, skills, etc.
- Image of Women Leaders: The concept of “friendly” or a certain image is required by female leaders — this includes image, dress, language, and management style. Or do women take on “masculine characteristics” to lead and move up the career ladder – is this required? Expected?
- Role on a Team: As a team member are their certain expectations of self and others? Are more women motivated and/or empowered by male vs. female supervisors? What aspect does culture at an institution play on this team environment?
- Mentoring: Do we have enough time or make enough time to mentor other women in the field? It is important that we see strong female leaders, and also their vulnerabilities (i.e. the holistic view of the leader)
- Work-Life Balance: Is this part of the institutional/organizational culture? How can this change? Organizational decision-making is relevant to improving and supporting a healthy balance of work in various roles and positions held by women.
- Geography & Transitions for Career Advancement: Are women less portable to move or relocate? Do we have to move (geographically or to another institution) to move up in higher education? Is this a choice vs. a sacrifice? Are positions more flexible for men vs. women, in terms of promotion or advancement? Discussions on this topic included making geographic or career transitions based on life milestones, children, career development, negotiation with a partner for career planning, etc.
- Solutions to Challenges — How can we improve women’s status in higher education?: Continue these conversations, continue to build our network of peers, consider restriction for communication (email, text, etc.) to encourage a work-life balance, consider looking at formal or informal policies that create barriers for women, think about opportunities to empower female colleagues on campus, movement needs to be asserted not just from female leaders, create “safe” spaces for women to speak up or out about challenges, and review how your institution embraces diversity within the organization or the division/unit/department considers the role of women.
Here is the challenge we left session participants with:
What can you do when you return back home to your institution after the conference? What is one thing you will work on to support and/or empower women within your campus community?
Above is the recording from this past Wednesday, April 27th @ 3 pm PST // 5 pm CDT // 6pm EST as we recap our experiences from #OLCInnovate. Here is the Google+ ON AIR Event Page where you can tune in LIVE or post comments, our Google Doc for show notes http://bit.ly/3Wedu4 and YOUR #OLCInnovate reflections (please add), and, of course, the podcast hashtag: #3Wedu for those who tweet along the backchannel. Here are the #3Wedu Twitter discussions from curated from #OLCInnovate in NOLA & our 4th podcast.
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