Takeaways from 2014 Yale Women In Leadership Conference

On February 1st, 2014 Yale Women in Leadership Conference, hosted by the Yale Women’s Leadership Initiative, took place at Yale Law School. The conference featured an impressive array of speakers and programming, ranging from a historic review of women at Yale since 1969 to career discernment for woman in finance, law, STEM, education, and the arts.

The F&ES Diversity & Inclusion Office supported over a dozen students to attend the conference to learn how better to address archaic but lingering notions suggesting that women in professional leadership are exceptional and even deviant.

Here is some of what F&ES attendees found encouraging, empowering, and inspiring as they strive for leadership in the environmental field.

  • “Cultivating women leaders requires institutional support from the top, a comment made by Professor Paula Kavathas at Yale School of Medicine. She said academic hiring committee should spend more efforts recruiting and retaining female professors, not less. This call is echoed in the conversation between Facebook’s COO and founder of LeanIn.org Sheryl Sandberg and the PricewaterhouseCoopers’s US Chairman Bob Moritz.”[NOTE: While progress is being made in our own community, work still needs to be done.  For example, with the recently announced promotion and tenure of Dr. Julie Zimmerman, there are now four women tenured at the School — the largest percentage in F&ES history — but there is only a short pipeline of additional women currently on the tenure track.
  • On Robin Chase’s keynote (Founder and former CEO of Zipcar)
    Robin Chase“I appreciated the way she linked business and the environment. Putting environmentalism in a business perspective can be helpful for people who are not active environmentalists to think about ways to approach ventures and startups.”
  • On Janet Robinson’s keynote (Former CEO of The New York Times Company)
    “Failures would probably be better described as ‘things that could have been done differently’.”
  • On Why We Need More Women In Tech by Sandra Barbour (Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin’s IS&GS)
    “Stay calm when handling rejections. Poor behavior after hearing any bad news could be unexpectedly costly in the future. “
  • On Lean Out: Good GDP, Junk GDP and True Career Achievement by Amity Shlaes (Author of New York Times best-sellers, The Forgotten Man)
    “ The ‘lean in’ movement – an internal reform approach guided by meritocracy ideals- may not suit those with entrepreneurial or creative temperaments.  For all the women concerned about work-life balance and ‘selling out’ of their careers for flexible jobs and/or motherhood, Amity Shlaes says sometimes the problem is mundane corporate culture -not the woman- which deters women from climbing the corporate ladder.  And women who want to fight about the idea rather than the table should be confident in doing so, for such an act can also be rebellious.”

Attendees also suggested that the Yale Women’s Leadership Initiative could connect with graduate and professional school groups, such as the Yale Environmental Women, to brainstorm and develop mentoring programs.