I asked my chief equity and inclusion
officer to explore the causes behind
this trend and my college is looking for
ways remedy such inequities. We have
already increased funding for faculty
educational assistance programs and
travel, and are making improvements
to career laddering and mentoring for
staff. I should add, though, that these
changes didn’t start with me. They
evolved from several surveys conducted over two years, among faculty
and staff at my college on the quality
of their workplace experiences. Such
introspection takes time and energy,
so commitment to gender equity at the
top is an important ingredient in any
On a related note, if an institution lacks
a robust mentoring or career-laddering
system, concerned women should ask
to put one in place. Ultimately, these
systems will benefit colleges, which
will retain employees with more institutional knowledge and investment
in the college. If institutions lack the
resources to establish them, it can be
worth it to set up informal ones to help
women share knowledge and strategies.
AAWCC has chapters at colleges
across the U. S. focused on helping
women advance—as students, profes-
sionals and leaders. Their activities
are as diverse as their locations: The
College of Southern Idaho chapter has
hosted a panel discussion on women
in politics and celebrated Equal Pay
Day, a date that symbolizes how far
into the year women must work to earn
what men earned in the previous year.
Rowan College at Gloucester County in
New Jersey founded a 65-hour Women’s
Leadership Program to mentor women
into future leadership roles. Onondaga
Community College in New York hosted
a speed networking event and a drive
to help their local Salvation Army’s
women’s shelter. The South Texas
College chapter has hosted a Women
in Technology event, as well as basic
auto maintenance classes for members.
At Tidewater Community College in
Virginia, a professional development
event addressed emotional intelligence,
self-advocacy and confidence in the
workplace. While each chapter’s focus
is distinct, they all promote women’s
empowerment through education,
skills-building and mentoring.
For those female leaders who already
find themselves trailblazing, I encourage
them to keep sharing their strategies,
progress and vision with the next gener-
ation. Building the pipeline must be part
of the strategy. When I testified on Pell
grants to the U. S. Senate’s Committee on
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
in February, I was humbled to speak for
some of the neediest students at the 1,103
community colleges across the country, a
majority of whom are women. I also was
delighted to see seven female senators
staring back at me as I spoke at the hear-
ing, asking informed, critical questions
about funding for community colleges. It
was a reminder to me of how far we have
come, and how many women are already
using their voices and positions to
advance gender equity and opportunity.
And how much truly depends on their
DeRionne Pollard is the president of Montgomery College in
Maryland and current president of AAWCC. She also serves
on the AACC Board of Directors.
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