More than 250 women from across the University of Colorado system took part in the two-day 14th annual CU Women Succeeding conference, this year at UCCS. The Feb. 25-26 event, called “Stages of a Career,” featured workshops, speakers and networking opportunities.
The 2017 CU Women Succeeding event will be at UCCS. Registration is expected to open this fall and fill quickly.
On Feb. 25, two UCCS women were among those presenting on an array of topics:
“Navigating a Maze: Exploring Women’s Journeys to Positions of Leadership in Higher Education”
There was no shortage of responses when Mandy Hansen, director, Global Engagement Office, asked a standing room only group of CU women to describe the one challenge or opportunity they face in their professional life:
- Being confined to one role.
- Hesitating when applying for a promotion.
- Fighting such labels as “aggressive, hormonal and cutthroat.”
- Wondering whether to take credit for accomplishments or point to the team’s efforts.
- Balancing being a mother and working professional.
Hansen told the women that their experiences are not unique and are in line with a broader discussion of women in leadership positions in higher education. It’s a topic Hansen has studied, earning her doctoral degree in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University.
During Friday’s workshop, Hansen described a long history of women in leadership positions in higher education – and how those positions were both harmed and advanced by Title IX of the federal Education Amendments in 1972.
When higher education institutions were men-only and women-only, women assumed key leadership positions in their schools, Hansen explained. After Title IX, positions such as deans of students for either sex were combined into one position – a position that most often went to men, she said.
Gender issues continue to shape leadership discussions in higher education, sometimes in subtle ways, she said. For example, a man’s recommendations for tenure often focus on his accomplishments, while a woman’s recommendations highlight her ability to work in a team – perpetuating gender stereotypes, she said.
“I Don’t Give a Sh*t Anymore: Dealing with Emotional Burnout”
Alex Ilyasova, associate professor, Department of English, was as surprised as anyone to her reaction at the end of a seven-year process of earning her doctorate from Michigan Technological University and then achieving tenure as an English professor at UCCS: “Really? Is this it?”
She found herself unmotivated about work. Burned out. Without the external motivation – or “carrot,” as she calls it – of tenure, she began to wonder: “Why am I really doing this job, and what’s really feeding me at work?”
A well-time sabbatical helped Ilyasova uncover the root causes of what she called her emotional burnout. She studied emotions and gained a vocabulary for talking about them, then developed an understanding of the role emotions play in work and life.
Ilyasova shared her research and own struggles with emotional burnout to a packed room in a symposium breakout session. She began the session by debunking what she called myths about emotions: that they are irrational, that they can be ignored, that a person can make decisions without accounting for emotions. She walked through descriptions of such basic emotions as joy, grief, anger, fear, surprise and disgust.
Signs of burnout, she explained, include physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.
To prevent or combat burnout, she encouraged the women to figure out what makes them happy, whether that be work or otherwise.
“If the place where we work is the one where we least express joy, it’s no wonder we eventually have burnout,” she said.
Photos by Joanna Bean