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CLS Class Highlight – Women in Leadership

Women in Leadership

What class?

Women in Leadership

Why is it cool?

In recent decades, more than a few women have risen to prominent positions as CEOs, company presidents, state representatives and leaders of nations—positions that would have been unheard of just thirty years ago. In 2004, Forbes released its first “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” list, and its presence in the publication every year since is surely a sign of tremendous progress. As a key text in the CLS Women in Leadership course states, however, “although women’s progress in attaining power and authority is unmistakable, even now the presence of women in elite leadership positions is unusual enough that it evokes a sense of wonder.”

By examining their historical role in leadership, Women in Leadership focuses on how women leaders from different eras became change agents and what particular issues made them transformational leaders. Bringing together historical, social, political and personal aspects of women in leadership, the course explores women leaders and their influence on their respective societies, as well as contributions on a broader spectrum.

“This course introduces students to issues related to women in leadership roles, be it in the corporate world, politics or other organizations,” said Roksana Alavi, subject matter expert for the class. “In this course, we explore the challenges women face, redefine the problems and explore some solutions. In doing so, we touch on both historical and current issues related to women in leadership positions.”

Throughout the course, students develop an understanding of the effect of gender in the workplace. Key topics include gender stereotypes and their social effects, discrimination in the workplace, gender differences in leadership, the challenges of women in leadership positions and some solutions to those challenges.

“We take a cohesive look at female leaders, their challenges and triumphs,” Alavi said. “One of my favorite assignments in this class is when the students pick a female leader, learn about her biography and apply the theories to her case. It connects the theories to the lived experiences.”

Students interact with their peers and instructor through online discussions, using the tools of the online learning management system to further engage with the course material. Discussions, article summaries and reviews, and a course-spanning task are other key features of the class.

“I hope that our students will learn women’s historical role in leadership and the challenges that they have faced to get there,” Alavi said of her goals for the course. “I would also like our students to become mindful of the social stereotypes of women in all kinds of intersection of identities (race, gender, ability, sexuality, etc.), and our responses to those identities.

“Everyone can be a leader in their lives. My hope is by learning and analyzing women’s experiences and challenges, our students can create an environment where everyone can feel respected, included and valued, be it in their home life or workplace.”

See what else is offered by the College of Liberal Studies.

Source: Through the Labyrinth, Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli

Mary Wuestewald
Mary Wuestewald specializes in digital and content marketing at OU Outreach. In 2015, she earned a master's degree in Strategic Communication from OU’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She currently contributes to Insight magazine, the CLS blog and CLS social media efforts.

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