On October 30, the RIT Leadership Institute and Community Service Center ran “Gender Differences in Leading Globally,” which was a discussion-based event led by professional mentors from the Leadership Institute’s Global Leadership Program. This particular talk was centered on the challenges faced by different genders in pursuing and obtaining positions of leadership, with a focus on women.

 “Of the 195 independent countries in the world, only 17 of them are led by women, and women hold only 20 percent of the seats in Parliament globally,” said Sandra Whitmore, one of the leaders of the program and director of operations for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, in a separate interview. “…Only 14 percent of women are executive officers. Only 21 women in the Fortune 500 companies are CEO’s… the gap for women of color is even greater.”

During the roundtable-style discussion, students and faculty spoke of women that have attained positions of power, as well as the lack of women in STEM fields. According to Whitmore, media tends to portray women in a way that may not seem strong or intelligent; they are usually dressed a certain way to create sex appeal or appear feminine. She claimed that in most fields in the United States men are promoted based on potential, whereas women are hired or promoted based on previous experience. Additionally, female salaries are consistently lower than male peers, and women are also severely underrepresented in legislature.

When asked why she attended the event, fourth year Criminal Justice major Kelsey Hudek stated that: “Families and people have changed; women need to make money, and if they are not treated equally, then they can’t support their families.”

Jan Dvorak, a fourth year New Media and Interactive Development major and an international student from the Czech Republic, said that he finds the issue important, especially in regards to leadership and business. “It is important to have balance,” said Dvorak, a participant in the Global Leadership Program. “You have to be careful to hire people not based on any other factor then their experience and knowledge.”

This program, run by Whitmore, Molly McGowan from the RIT Leadership Institute and Community Service Center, and James Myers from the Office of International Education and Global Programs, is one of the many leadership certificates offered.

During an interview, Whitmore described the program, saying, “It’s really for people or students who want to lead and live in a global economy, and a global environment, to understand different cultures and to really build on their own leadership.” It applies to anyone from first-year students to PHD students, and also sponsors events open to the general student population.

 There will be two more events in this series. On November 5 a discussion will be held in room 03-2610 of the Campus Center from 12-2 p.m., and will center on leadership in the deaf and hard of hearing community. The final event will be held on November 13 from 5-7 p.m. in the same room. This discussion will have to do with resilience and balance in leadership positions.