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Female faculty aim for Voice and Influence

Dec 6 2012

The Clayman Institute's new Voice and Influence Program is helping cultivate female leaders at Stanford.

“I’m thinking more explicitly about gender issues and [developing] awareness about leadership style,” said biology professor Martha Cyert. Cyert is one of 16 Stanford faculty in this year’s Voice and Influence Program, the Clayman Institute's initiative to empower women faculty to have more influence at Stanford, within their disciplines and in public debate. In its second year, the program is made up of faculty who have not yet been in leadership roles and of veteran faculty already in leadership positions who value management training for burgeoning leaders.

The core idea driving the program, explains Clayman Institute Director of Programs and Research Andrea Rees Davies, is that the representation of women in tenure-track and tenured faculty positions remains low at Stanford and nationally. Stanford women comprise 20.5 percent of tenured faculty and 26 percent of tenure-track faculty. The Voice and Influence Program aims to provide participants with research-based gender intelligence that translates into tools to succeed in the academy.

From theory to practice

Clayman Institute Director Shelley Correll speaks regularly to women’s groups about gender biases in the workplace. This new program is an extension of that work. “Rather than one-off talks, I thought it would be great to put together a program for faculty groups to go through together,” she said. As such, about two years ago Correll thought of a way to translate her research into training for her colleagues: the result is the Voice and Influence Program.

Dean’s Offices from most of the seven schools identified female faculty emerging into leadership roles, and the Institute invited about 20 of them to participate in the yearlong program. Funding comes from private donors, the provost and deans. 

“It’s very hands on,” said Meg Caldwell, Executive Director for the Center for Ocean Solutions, who is a participant in this year’s cohort. “We go theory to practice, theory to practice.” The group is presented with research and theory and then they talk about how the trends materialize in their own lives. They then practice mock scenarios where they utilize the management tools. “No matter where you are in your career, you re-encounter leadership challenges,” Caldwell said.

The program pulls from faculty leaders who study power, negotiation and influence and experts in expanding public voice, reach, and impact. Participants meet for two networking events and four sessions. In a session earlier this fall called “Having Difficult Conversations,” participants learned to explore and practice negotiation and the impact of how we negotiate on our career and our influence. In a more recent seminar called “Creating Effective and Respectful Workplaces,” participants talked about managing at Stanford, from setting a strategic direction to engaging communities in respectful practices.

A next generation of leaders

Next up, the Clayman Institute, in collaboration with the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, has support for a three-year pilot program to bring the Voice and Influence Program to women graduate students. The program will help the next generation of academic leaders establish and claim their academic expertise as well as develop a more expansive view of their scholarship.

A gender lens
exposes gaps in knowledge,
identifies root causes of barriers,
and proposes workable solutions.