Women’s Leadership Program empowers next generation of Gettysburgians

Partnership between Women’s Center and Garthwait Leadership Center sparks new campus program.

Today’s world needs leaders.

Leaders who are rooted in the foundational values of ethics and civic responsibility; leaders who are collaborative and group oriented; and leaders who can see the big picture and develop a strategy to accomplish a shared vision.

The world needs leaders of character, courage, and commitment—regardless of their sex.

WLP_AndyThis conviction inspired Andy Hughes, director of the Garthwait Leadership Center, and Prof. Stephanie Sellers, director of the Women’s Center, to jumpstart the Gettysburg College Women’s Leadership Program (WLP). The program directly addresses many of the barriers women face in the workforce and provides Gettysburg students with the skills and knowledge needed to overcome them.

“Current statistics show that less than five percent of all American Fortune 500 CEOs are women; women make 76 cents to the dollar that a man in the same job earns; and the United States’ elected leadership continues at an 80 to 86 percent male to 20 to 14 percent female representation. In the year 2013, these numbers are simply unacceptable,” Sellers said.

WLP_Sellers“Leadership in the workplace, and in all aspects of society, begins with leadership at the college level. In order to make girls into national women leaders and executives in their chosen careers, and thus change the gender-wage gap, leadership skill-building, education, and mentoring needs to occur before graduating college.”

Through this inaugural program, which offers biannual retreats, monthly workshops, and a diverse professional network to WLP students, Gettysburg joins other top colleges and universities around the nation in their efforts to advance women’s leadership education.

“One of the reasons women’s leadership has become a strong national trend at institutions of higher learning is the continued falling behind of women in all fields after graduation,” Sellers said. “We in the WLP believe strongly that it is a disservice to women students to not sufficiently prepare them for [these challenges].”

In order for the program to take off, however, Sellers and Hughes knew they needed passionate students willing to be trailblazers for the initiative. They found such leaders in Natalie Wismer ’15 and Michaela Sweeney ’14.

WLP_Student“The development of women’s leadership is vital to Gettysburg College,” Wismer said. “After meeting with Dr. Sellers to hear what she and Andy Hughes had envisioned for this program, I felt this was an opportunity I could simply not pass up.”

As an intern for the Women’s Center, Wismer helped to research theory and national trends in women’s leadership in the summer of 2013 and was later a driving force behind motivating 23 students to enroll in the WLP this semester.

“The WLP provides women with the skills to empower themselves,” Wismer said. “This benefits Gettysburg College as a whole by uplifting women students to see their full potential, which positively impacts the campus [since] these women are more likely to share the skills they have learned with others and to more readily accept leadership positions.”

For Sweeney, a member of the WLP coordinator team, the opportunity to also play a role in this historic program for the College has been rewarding.

“In the WLP, we aim to offer an enriching experience that not only inspires Gettysburg’s women students to do great work, but also fosters meaningful discussions and teaches invaluable skills [to] become successful in their academic, professional, and personal lives,” Sweeney said. “I have not only learned a lot about women’s leadership, but have also learned a lot about myself and my strengths. I highly encourage all Gettysburg College women and trans-women to apply.”

For more information about the WLP, contact Prof. Stephanie Sellers; register today.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Mike Baker, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6521.

Posted: Mon, 14 Oct 2013

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