Workshop focuses on women’s leadership skills

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Photo by Maria Zepeda.

On Friday, nearly 50 women from across the University paired up and interviewed one another about their backgrounds and personal stories.

Students and faculty members gathered last week at the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies with women’s leadership guru Théres Stiefer, who led a five-hour workshop intended to guide women in self-discovery and confidence building. Stiefer is currently the director of Executive Education at the Sam M. Walton College of Business in Arkansas. Throughout the workshop, participants brainstormed ideas and presented their conclusions to the group.

Stiefer, who began teaching hands-on leadership workshops to women over 20 years ago, said she believes exceptional leaders have the ability to tell stories, ask questions and value other people.

“Leadership is more than just a style or title, but knowing yourself and being able to know others,” Stiefer said. “You have to value yourself and others and want to learn about yourself and others.”

Stiefer began the workshop with a video of Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg speaking about her Lean In campaign to promote female leadership. Following the presentation, workshop participants broke into small groups to discuss their own experiences as leaders.

Associate Director of Career Development of the Forestry School Kathy Douglas said she invited Stiefer to conduct the workshop at Yale to help women learn to articulate their leadership experiences and styles confidently, especially in situations like job interviews.

“This workshop is for people to learn about their own strengths,” Douglas said. “Students need to be able to talk about themselves in interviews and articulate what kind of leaders they are.”

Participants interviewed said they enjoyed collaborating with other women across different graduate and professional schools and Yale College.

Amanda Lounsbury GRD ’17, who attended the workshop, said the atmosphere and activities created a safe place to be vulnerable and learn about herself.

“I’ve started to see gender inequality myself as I’ve gone further in my education,” Lounsbury said. “It’s an important thing to deal with.”

Nora Hawkins FES ’14 said the topics discussed throughout the day demonstrated a greater need for women to debate the issues facing them.

She added that it is difficult for women to find a balance between being confident but not “overly self-endorsing.”

Annie Barry ’14 said the message that leaders must know and understand the people they are leading particularly resonated with her. Although leaders are often concerned about their own leadership styles, they should focus more on learning about their community, she said.

60 percent of Forestry School students are women.

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