Thursday, December 5, 2013

To be a Woman Leader

The following reflection stems from a SORT discussion about the challenges women in leadership positions often encounter and why there are few women in position of power. I have often wondered why there were not numerous women in leadership positions. This question always bothered me, especially when I was attending school in Togo, Africa. I recall only having two female teachers, from kindergarten through high school, and the principals were always male. Growing up, the more I worried about the lack of women in leadership positions because I wanted to be a leader but this seemed almost impossible. However, when I moved to the United States, my high school year, I realized that here, being a woman with a leadership position was likely and possible. I noticed more women in leadership positions, as the chair of their departments and as a principal and in various organizations. These women served as my role models, as I applied for various leadership positions in multiple clubs, such as the President of French Club and Student Council. I applied because I wanted to know what skills were required of a leader and that these positions came with challenges. For instance, when it came to make decisions or distribute projects, I often found my authority challenged by the vice president, who was a male. I noticed when we held our meetings; the members’ questions were mostly directed toward him, and less likely toward me. Somewhere along the way, I ended up taking his position and him mine and this was a result of several things.  One, I realized, I was not outspoken or as passionate as my counterparts. Two, along the way, I started to believe that I was not fit for the position because I realized that at meetings even with the teachers in charge of the clubs, they always turned to the male at the table for answers, regardless if the teachers themselves were male or female. These events made me more aware of myself as a person more importantly as a woman, so when I applied for a position; I always applied for a position that allowed me to work in the background not in the forefront especially when there is a male in the group.  Now, at Colgate, I noticed that I did not run for leadership positions as much as I did in high school and this stems from realizing that I was a new environment and did not know the system. Therefore my freshman year, I became a member in the various clubs where I knew I wanted to have leadership roles in the future and this year, I am applying for those positions. I also expanded my group role models as they are my motivation because they too have encountered these challenges and they have found ways to work in the system. Finally, I realized that being a female leader whether in the United States or in Togo has it challenges but it is a necessary and important because, the more women in leadership positions now  will encourage future generation of women to be leaders in the fields.

-Noufo Nabine'16 

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