Empowerment means different things to different people: men and women, interns and CEOs, as well as people from various racial, ethnic or religious backgrounds.
However, it can be inferred that current students and faculty — even college deans — may speak the same language when it comes to empowerment. After all, faculty members were once students. However recent or long ago, they likely remember the one mantra that motivated them to get where they are today.
So, for Drexel University students, DrexelNow asked female deans from across the University to share these tidbits of advice in advance of their empowerment discussion at The Women’s Empowerment Summit taking place on campus March 7–8 (during Women’s History Month!), and hosted by the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship. This also includes a tip from faculty at University of Pennsylvania who will moderate the panel.
Be sure to stop by the Dean’s Panel from 3:30–4:45 p.m. on March 7 for more empowerment tips, and check out the full event for additional workshops, panels and networking.
Vanessa Z. Chan, PhD
Professor of Practice in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Undergraduate Chair of Materials Science and Engineering
University of Pennsylvania
Ask for what you want and work extremely hard to deliver. People often give opportunities to those who remind themselves of their younger selves and as such, you will not naturally be on everyone’s short list. So if you really want a step-up opportunity, ask for it, explain what your vision is and work hard to deliver. Just remember, the worst thing that could happen is they say “no,” but even in that case, they know that they should be thinking about you if other opportunities arise.
Ana V. Diez Roux, MD, PhD
Dean and Distinguished University Professor of Epidemiology
Dornsife School of Public Health
Don't be afraid to be your own kind of leader. Follow your values and your vision and don't be afraid to question how things are done or propose new ways of organizing or doing things. But also listen to others and learn from your mistakes (you will make them!). There will be things you cannot change, but also things that you can change. Recognize the value that your own background and history can bring to your role.
Paula Marantz Cohen, PhD
Distinguished Professor of English, College of Arts and Sciences
Dean, Pennoni Honors College
Don’t be discouraged by initial rejection or by roadblocks toward implementing an idea. A willingness to push forward in the face of opposition or ridicule is an important key to success. Many good ideas never see the light of day because people aren’t willing to face down naysayers. If one route doesn’t work, try another. Be inventive. If your feelings are easily hurt, work consciously at becoming less sensitive. Be receptive to others, but be tenacious with regard to your own goals and beliefs.
Maria T. Schultheis, PhD
Professor, Department of Psychology
College of Arts and Sciences
It’s a misconception that innate ability is central to success. Sure, talent is one part of the equation, but it’s tenacity that turns goals into realities. There’s an idea in the field of psychology that grit is where passion meets perseverance. If you have your mind set on something — whether it’s grad school, a promotion or getting hired for your dream job — you need to work hard, channel your passion and never take “no” for an answer.
Penny Hammrich, PhD
Professor and Interim Dean
School of Education
Have a vision for what you want, then create that vision. By creating a vision for the future, you will draw that reality towards you. Talk about your vision, tell people about your vision, take steps to achieve your vision. In doing so, your vision will become reality.
Laura N. Gitlin, PhD
College of Nursing and Health Professions
As a leader it is important to keep your eyes on the prize — that is to keep focused on a big vision you want to help move people and organizations forward to achieve — a vision that is transformative, timely and addresses local and global needs. Don’t become consumed or distracted by daily challenges and ups and downs, although they do take energy and can’t be ignored. However, a leader must stay focused, be nimble, have agency and seize opportunities to transform an organization and pave a pathway for an important vision.
Donna Marie De Carolis, PhD
Silverman Family Professor of Entrepreneurial Leadership
Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship
At the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, we believe that entrepreneurship education empowers everyone. Because when you think and act like an entrepreneur, you learn to embrace when life doesn’t go right; you learn to embrace setbacks, learn from them, manage your options and move on. Resilience is empowering. Resilience is the hallmark of the entrepreneurial mindset.
Elisabeth Van Bockstaele, PhD
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies in the College of Medicine
Drawing from the work of Carol Dweck, it’s important to have a growth mindset vs a fixed mindset. In a growth mindset, abilities can be developed with persistence and effort.
Sharon L. Walker, PhD
Distinguished Professor and Dean
College of Engineering
Opportunity is only part of the success equation. The rest of it is resolution, and that’s entirely up to you. You have to resolve to take responsibility for your career. You have to resolve to educate yourself. You have to resolve to make the most out of the chances you have to network, to meet people, and to explore the field you’re interested in. And when you come across an opportunity, dive right in. Do not be afraid to do this. Ask for business cards. Get in touch with leaders in your field. Educate yourself on the career paths. Women have collectively done a brilliant job pushing the doors open. The next step is total resolution. And the good news is, that’s up to you.
The Women’s Empowerment Summit was generously sponsored by the Jamie & Lisa Maguire Empowerment Program for Women Leaders.