National Conference Advances Women in Leadership

by University Relations

In observation of national Women’s History Month last March, the field of higher education focused its efforts on advocating for more women in senior-level leadership roles. Specifically, the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) and Pepperdine University’s Center for Women in Leadership announced their partnership for the inaugural conference, “Women in Leadership in Higher Education,” held March 7, 2016, in Malibu, California.

The event drew attendees from throughout the country, including 50 from APU, and presented the diverse and compelling stories of female leaders while highlighting the critical need to advance women into more positions of influence in America’s colleges and universities. Keynote speakers included Shirley Hoogstra, JD, the CCCU’s first female president; Sally Helgesen, internationally acclaimed writer, speaker, consultant, and co-author of The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2010); Pamela Eibeck, Ph.D., University of the Pacific president; and Karen Longman, Ph.D., professor and Ph.D. program director in APU’s Department of Higher Education. Longman, a longtime proponent and pioneer of women in leadership in higher education and a major advocate for reform in the area of gender biases in leadership, is coediting an eight-volume series of books sponsored by the International Leadership Association titled Women and Leadership: Research, Theory, and Practice (Information Age Publishing). Gail (Vaughn ’79) Wallace, M.A. ’96, Ph.D., adjunct professor in the School of Nursing, and Kate Wallace (’10) Nunneley also presented a breakout session titled “Women and Work: Theological and Generational Perspectives.”

The sold-out conference hosted 230 attendees eager to address sobering national statistics cited in a 2016 American Council on Education report: women make up roughly 47 percent of the workforce, but less than 3 percent of CEOs in the U.S. are female, and only 27 percent of higher education presidents are female. Through this event, participants sought to raise awareness of this disparity and prepare women of all ages and at all stages in their professional career for professional advancement, influence, and impact.

The fact that approximately 60 percent of students across the CCCU campuses are female adds to the importance of providing senior-level role models for all students. This conference launched the first in a series of annual March events co-sponsored by the CCCU and hosted by member institutions designed to recognize national Women’s History Month and increase visibility across Christian higher education for the contributions of women in leadership and the urgency of advancing more women into leadership.

Originally published in the Summer '16 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.