‘CU Supporting Women Leaders’ discussion plans dialogue on intersectionality

Allison Speir 

aspeir@uccs.edu 

     Female faculty and administrators from two CU campuses will gather virtually for an open dialogue about women issues in higher education institutions on May 4. The group of leaders will also brainstorm possible ways to work through these challenges.  

     This virtual event hosted by CU Anschutz Medical Campus and CU Denver is called “CU Supporting Women Leaders: An Anti-racist, Intersectional Dialogue.” Women leaders from CU Anschutz and CU Denver will act as panelists in this dialogue.  

     The moderators of the discussion will be Callie Rennison, CU Regent and professor in the School of Public Affairs, and Amy Bonomi, professor of human development and family studies and co-founder and founding director of the Women’s Leadership Institute at Michigan State University. 

     In this event, Bonomi and Rennison will work to create an “intersectional conversation” that dives into the many factors in women’s lives that form their identities. These identities may include marriage, race, ethnicity and background.  

     Bonomi and Rennison are the co-authors of the book “Women Leading Change in Academia: Breaking the Glass Ceiling, Cliff, and Slipper,” along with collaborators from higher education institutions across the nation.   

     Bonomi said that their book served in part as inspiration for the upcoming dialogue event, and the dialogue will contain many of the same themes that are seen in the book.  

     Their book includes the perspectives of women in leadership positions at colleges and universities across the U.S. and how these women overcame barriers and biases in the workplace to reach their current position.  

     According to this summary, “The collection addresses moving on, up or out of formal leadership in the academy, how to create institutional change, and strategies for rising, revolutionizing, and redoubling efforts to support women leaders.”  

     In an email, Bonomi said, “We organized the dialogue to include the known challenges women face in higher education (e.g., sexism, racism, the double bind), along with evidence-based strategies that buffer against such challenges (networks, mentorship, allies, dismantling problematic power structures).”  

     When asked why this is an important conversation to have in today’s world, Bonomi and Rennison referenced an April 19 New York Times article feature. Bonomi said that this explains how, “Men are judged on their potential and women on their accomplishments. Similarly, women in higher education face a chronic uphill battle to ‘prove’ their worth at the faculty and leadership levels. 

     “As the book that Dr. Callie Rennison and I co-edited outlines, many women in higher education face the glass ceiling (they are not considered for the highest-level leadership positions), the glass cliff (they are placed in precarious leadership positions at higher rates than men), and the glass slipper (they often face a double standard and bias in how they are evaluated).”  

     Rennison added, “These issues cause a disproportionate number of women (students, staff and faculty) to exit academia which comes as a great cost to higher education. We lose their expertise, and it’s costly to the system.”  

     This virtual event will be hosted via Zoom on May 4 from 3-5 p.m. MST. You can register at the following link.  

     For more information on Rennison and Bonomi or to purchase their book,  

“Women Leading Change in Academia: Breaking the Glass Ceiling, Cliff, and Slipper,” go to the following site.  

Photo courtesy of UC Denver.