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Building female leaders of tomorrow

Unfortunately, women in today’s society are often still viewed as inferior to men in political, social and economic roles. With an eye on tackling some of these issues, the Women Involved in Learning and Leadership program, the Women’s Center and the Office of Student Life joined together to host the Women and Leadership Kick Off Party on the evening of September 10 in the Harbor Cafe.

Kate Drabinski, senior lecturer of gender and women’s studies and director of the UMBC WILL program, recognizes the disparity between men and women in the workforce and is concerned with helping women explore career and life choices in and out of the classroom.

“Since this is the first kick off event we’ve ever done, I’m not sure how many people are going to show,” said Drabinski. To her surprise, small groups began trickling in until the event had a sizable turnout of at least a couple dozen participants.

Drabinski and the director of the Women’s Center, Jessica Myers, opened with a discussion on feminism and what leadership means and looks like. Not everyone shared the same perspectives, but all the members and attendees were encouraged to share their opinions. Between activities, the conversation kept flowing over free pizza.

Inspired by Drabinski and her own passion for gender equality, Julia Gottlieb, a senior women’s studies major is currently one of the co-leaders of WILL. “I was hesitant about about joining [WILL] at first. I was just kind of shy and scared because I didn’t know anybody.” Despite her doubts early on, she’s now thankful for pushing herself to participate and become an active member.

In addition to learning more about the lingering issues surrounding gender equality and exploring ways to improve women’s standing in leadership positions, there are additional benefits of participating.

“As a new initiative to spread awareness, students who attend two or more of these Women and Leadership events each semester are awarded a certificate marking their completion of leadership training,” Drabinski noted. As a team, they really strive to broaden WILL and encourage more and more people to take part in it.

Said Gottlieb, “We should be questioning and discussing these issues more. I want women to be empowered. They deserve the tools to become leaders.”