A Note from Ujima Donalson,
Sometimes something comes along at the right place in time and sparks a movement—or at least a whole lot of conversation. Such has been the case with Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, which has skyrocketed to the top of bestseller lists and spawned countless news articles, editorials, blog entries, and Facebook posts.
In our corner of the world, a colleague mentioned the book during a brainstorming session for this issue of the Leading Edge. One of my team members had seen Sandberg on 60 Minutes the night before; another had heard her on NPR’s Morning Edition on KUOW while driving into work that morning. As we discussed what we’d read and heard about Sandberg and her book, we decided it would be interesting to find out what some UW leaders thought about Lean In and, more broadly, women and leadership.
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." ~ Anais Nin
Finance & Facilities Leans In
Barbara Wingerson, Executive Director for Finance & Administration in Finance & Facilities; Claudia Frere, Director of the UW Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability Office; and Ruth Johnston, Associate Vice President and Special Assistant to the Provost, share their thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and women in leadership at the UW.
Three of Sandberg’s core concepts resonated with us: sit at the table, make your partner a true partner, and don’t leave before you leave. We talked about the need to "show up" and how actively looking for ways to invite yourself to the table is key to success. Read more
"On a day-to-day basis, I am so dramatically more impressed by the windows of opportunity that have been flung open for women than by the occasionally stale air that lingers in a few rooms." ~ S. Georgia Nugent, President, Kenyon College
Leaning In, Out, or In-Between
Much attention has been given in the media to Sheryl Sandberg’s call for women to Lean In—to overcome their internal barriers and fears, take a seat at the table, and be more assertive in advancing their views and careers. Sandberg also, though perhaps less forcefully, points out the many ways that the system is broken, illuminates inherent tensions between life and work, and concedes that not all women are concerned with making it to the top of their organizations.
So, where does this leave women who are or who hope to be leaders—leaning in, leaning out, or somewhere in between?
"Almost anyone in a position of leadership can point to a highly placed individual who took an interest in fostering, and took pains to help develop, the trajectory of her career…Therefore, we as higher-education leaders must do more to retain and recruit role models and provide such sponsors for emerging women in our field." ~ Dr. Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania
Success and Mentoring at the UW
Paul Jenny, Vice Provost, Planning & Budgeting
I think the University of Washington’s commitment to gender diversity can be expressed as a success when looking at the current leadership of the University. The executive vice president, provost, and senior vice president positions are currently held by women, and looking at all senior positions (deans, vice provosts, and vice presidents), 45 percent of these positions are currently held by women. While we can be proud of our success to date, it is important that we continue to push for and ensure gender equity at all levels of the organization.
At the Office of Planning and Budgeting, I have six direct reports on my management team; four of these positions are held by women. In discussing further leadership opportunities with this group and next-generation female leaders in my organization, it does seem that there are certain areas we could focus on to further our success in gender equity.
"Young men do not merely accept that their spouses may work, they expect it. And they expect to have lives beyond work that include caring for their children and pursuing other passions. They want flexibility as much or more than women do." ~ Stewart D. Friedman, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania