Conference prepares women for careers in higher education

Utah has finally joined the ranks of

<a href=””>ACE Women’s Network</a>

– a national system of networks within states providing programs that support women in higher education careers. Utah is one of the last states to become active. The

<a href=””>Utah Women in Higher Education Network</a>

(UWHEN) was founded by Dr. Susan Madsen, Utah Valley University professor and women in leadership expert. After two years in the making, the network will hold its first conference April 6. Madsen said, “Women get discouraged by the ‘good old boys club,’ and sometimes we just don’t look at opportunities because we don’t understand our strengths. We need to be better telling what we are good at, and that is what I hope this network will help women in higher education careers do – develop a self-concept so we can stand up in any situation.”

<strong>Where are women in higher education careers?</strong>

The issue of women advancing in higher education careers is a national one. According to the

<a href=””>White House Project Report</a>

of 2009, at degree-granting institutions, women make up 42 percent of full-time faculty, 26 percent of professors and 23 percent of university and college presidents. In Utah, of the 10 state-owned colleges and universities, two presidents are women – F. Ann Millner from Weber State University and Cynthia Bioteau from Salt Lake Community College – making a one-to-five ratio. The goal of UWHEN is to help women obtain leadership and professional development opportunities – something there is not a lot of in Utah – so women know how to advance in their career and be a part of the process of higher education, Madsen said.

<strong>Why should women be in academia?</strong>

From professors to deans, the more women in higher education, the more women students and graduates there are because they serve as role models. Madsen said, “Also, women need to be professors because they bring different perspectives to teaching and have different priorities, which ultimately brings change. Women can make things better in higher education.” This is evidenced in the White House Project Report, which states, “Studies have shown that when prominent female academics are involved in research, for example, it can affect the nature of both the questions that are asked and the findings,” and “these women serve as powerful role models and mentors to younger women starting out on the path to leadership themselves.”

<strong>Why don’t women advance equally in higher education careers?</strong>

There are many factors that keep women from advancing in higher education careers, including marriage and children, which affect men and women differently in advancement. The White House report states for presidents alone, only 63 percent of female college presidents are married compared with 89 percent of male presidents. Also, only 68 percent of female presidents have children, compared with 91 percent of men. Addressing the work-family balance issue is not something UWHEN can solely do, but it the organization does want to teach women how to be assertive and speak up for themselves, Madsen said. “Being confident is not a lack of humility,” Madsen said. “Women want the opportunity to develop themselves to become more influential, but many don’t have a formal title – the thing that often gives power. But giving women a voice is the first step to advancement.” One of the pitfalls many women in academia face is university service, such as committees. Women are generally asked to do more service than men, and because they say yes they do not have the time to spend on research or teaching, key experience to advancement. “If a women is not serving on tenure and promotion committees, or something as visible and core, they don’t set up a career in a path that leads to a formal position,” Madsen said. Women who have a voice can learn to say no as well as not wait to be asked to assume a position. “Women, more than men, don’t picture themselves as a formal leader, and just work along the way,” Madsen said. “And we want women to change that when they come to this spring conference.” The event, which will take place at the

<a href=”;q=Salt+Lake+Community+College+Miller+campus&amp;bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&amp;biw=1024&amp;bih=576&amp;um=1&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;sa=N&amp;tab=wl”>Salt Lake Community College Miller campus</a>

, will teach career mapping, negotiation and work-life balance. All female employees in higher education are welcome, from faculty and staff to grad students.

<a href=””>Registration</a>

is open until April 5. Also, Madsen said most institutions are assisting its employees so they can attend. – [email protected]

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