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Women in higher education break through glass ceiling

Women’s leadership program provides the tools, workshops and networking support to help aspiring women administrators

04/21/04

Seven women administrators and faculty members from Xavier spent the school year focusing on women’s leadership issues at the college level in a series of workshops held at several local universities.

They joined the 2004 Women’s Leadership Program, a collaborative of senior level administrators from six local colleges and universities. The workshops focused on developing the women’s leadership potential while offering networking opportunities within Greater Cincinnati’s higher education community.

“It has really opened access doors to women leaders in other institutions that Xavier may benefit from knowing some time in the future,” said Mary Kay Meyer, director of the weekend degree program of Xavier’s center for adult and part-time students.

“Higher education is different than other institutions where few women have had the opportunity to break through the glass ceiling.” For example, she said, the new president of the University of Cincinnati is a woman.

Organized in spring of 2003, the program is part of the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development at UC. The institute uses workshops and administrative internships to foster the discussion of such pertinent topics as the competent leadership of women and gender equity in leadership positions.

Participating schools include Cincinnati State Technical & Community College, the College of Mount Saint Joseph, Miami University, Northern Kentucky University, the University of Cincinnati and Xavier.

In addition to Meyer, six women have participated in the program, including Mary Walker, acting vice president for the division of information resources. Walker is a member of the program’s steering committee.

She said the program is important because it provides women with leadership opportunities.

“The WILD program has provided an opportunity for the women participants at Xavier to exchange best practices and to network with peers from the surrounding colleges and universities,” she said. “While this opportunity enriches the participants, it also enriches their institutions.”

Based on the positive feedback from this year's participants, Walker said they plan to remain involved in the program .

The program sponsored six workshops this year featuring top administrators from local universities including UC president Nancy Zimpher and College of Mount St. Joseph president Sr. Francis Marie Thrailkill to address leadership styles. Other workshops addressed negotiating tactics when seeking a new job, the fundamentals of institutional fundraising and setting career goals for the next five years.

“It was very interesting to learn about what administrators do,” said Meyer, an administrator for the past 25 years. “Students bring such unique perspectives to higher education institutions, and it’s fun to learn what other campuses are doing to meet these demands.”

The program comes to a close with a final workshop and panel discussion on Monday, April 26, at Cincinnati State Technical & Community College. Its members will celebrate the inaugural year with a panel of women including Ohio’s associate assistant attorney general Kate Clifford. The panel discussion will focus on legal and national issues in higher education.

The celebration also is an open house for the members’ supervisors and their institution’s vice presidents. For more information about the program, call Mary Walker at 513 745-2985.