Empowering Women in Business

We’ve done a good job at Nichols keeping our promise to promote women’s leadership. The latest installment was evident on March 23rd at our annual Empowering Women in Business (EWIB) conference. This event regularly draws more than a hundred female leaders—and aspiring leaders—to the Nichols campus to hear a distinguished speaker and to participate in a range of breakout seminars.

This year’s keynote speaker—Olympic women’s soccer gold medalist Angela Hucles, the chief empowerment officer of Empowerment Through Sport, certainly made an impression on the audience—and me.

Angela’s story about how she almost retired from soccer the year before the 2008 Olympics was very powerful. She was not getting much playing time on the vaunted U.S. women’s team, but she decided to return because she felt she still had something to contribute. She was expected to play a backup role in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, but an injury to soccer icon Abby Wambach forced Hucles into a starting position. She responded by scoring four goals, including two against Japan in the semi-finals. Her efforts helped the United States to the gold medal and she finished second in goals scored. The importance of passion.

March was a busy month for the Nichols Institute of Women’s Leadership (IWL), which hosted the conference. The IWL also released its biennial index of women in leadership positions throughout Massachusetts, including CEOs, executive directors, mayors, college presidents, and schools superintendents.

The index has since gotten plenty of attention, including from Boston National Public Radio affiliate WBUR. Credit goes to IWL faculty director Jean Beaupre, who was interviewed for the piece.

Based on the percentage of leadership positions occupied by women, the state’s total score came in at 39 out of 100—a three-point rise over the first IWL index results three years ago, but a wake-up call that we need to do a lot more. Programs like the EWIB, the efforts of the IWL, and the teaching of leadership skills to all of our undergraduates can be part of the solution.

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