“When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” It was only fitting that this quote from Maya Angelou was on our Women of Promise Celebration program as she visited our university just a few weeks ago. This is at the core of what we, not just as women of promise, but students of promise, need to remember.
In his opening remarks, President Harker talked about the increasing ratio of tenured women faculty members to their male counterparts. There are only a few departments still lacking tenured women. Even the ratio of women to men at the university has risen much higher than 50/50. He says that the goal of the university is to have the board represent the population of the state – a very noble goal I would say.
Walking into this Women of Promise Celebration dinner, I really had no idea what a woman of promise was. I could guess, of course, but was not 100% certain. When I heard that Terri Kelly, the CEO of W.L. Gore, was going to be speaking, I was ecstatic. Gore is rumored to have a very flat organizational structure – and here the rumors were confirmed. Terri was so conversational, friendly and inspiring. She didn’t plan on becoming CEO of Gore when she first started there after college, but as she put it, it sort of just happened to her. One thing that Terri left us with was that there are specific differences between men and women, one being that men tend to be more comfortable with bragging about their qualities (no offense, gentlemen) while women may be equally as qualified, or more so, and will not discuss those in an interview. In fact, women are more likely to point out their flaws. That being said, when Terri found herself in the highest position in the company, she looked back and tried to find out how she got there. The answer was her mentors.
Our mentors were why we were present at dinner that day. Tenured women faculty members invited each of us there to recognize our past, current and future achievements and took an oath to be our mentors. I was astonished to see that 35% of the women nominated as women of promise were from the Honors Program, and also proud. I don’t believe that these women were chosen specifically for being in the Honors Program, but because they have shown motivation, perseverance and achievement throughout their academic careers.
Congratulations to all of the women who were nominated as a “woman of promise!”