Ariel Koren | That's what she said …
Guest Column | Debunking the ‘female leadership issue'
February 16, 2012, 11:27 pm·
Raised by a hard working, ambitious woman with a full-time job and enough drive to fuel a steam engine, I never thought to question the dictum — often repeated in my home — that the corporate ladder is “best climbed in a pair of Jimmy Choos.”
So when I was inspired to run for Class Board President, the hype about my being “a chick” made the campaign long and hard. The Class Board constitution didn’t say that to represent Penn15, I needed to have a Pen15 of my own.
And I didn’t.
Neither did Angela Rice, Tess Michaels, Kay Yan Lu or Rachel Bernard — who are the freshmen Class Board’s Wharton Chair, VP External Affairs, VP Internal Affairs and Nursing Chair, respectively.
Forgive my above allusion to the now-jaded Penn15 innuendo. This is not another Penn-women-should-do-everything-that-Penn-men-are-doing column. (I love you, Ernest Owens, but enough is enough).
In fact, it’s the opposite, since Penn women are already doing everything that Penn men are doing.
Owens is among many who have written about the problematic lack of women in high-impact leadership positions on campus. So why is it that I see female leaders everywhere I look?
Indeed, it’s hard to walk a block without encountering one. She is usually easy to identify: hair windblown, heels clanking, eyes aglow and mind a-storm, at work on her new plan of attack: how else might she shake things up on campus?
This phenomenon is especially hard to miss on Walnut Street … the President’s House on 38th Street (that’s right — Penn President Amy Gutmann is kind of a big deal around here — and she wears lipstick and high-heeled shoes!). So, Ernie, we do thank you for looking out for us, but it looks like we can carry our own weight.
Need evidence? Shana Rusonis is the Social Planning and Events Committee’s president this year. Morgan Finkelstein planned the 2011 State of the School event. Danielle Golub and Joyce Kim are newly elected reps for the Undergraduate Assembly, the Vice President of which is Faye Cheng. Amanda Acosta is the freshman representative of Assembly for International Students and your reading this column today is testament to the effort and leadership of The Daily Pennsylvanian Executive Editor Dana Tom, as well as those of Opinion Editor Anjali Tsui. The list is endless.
My message? Well, enough worrying about the “female leadership issue,” because a look around this campus shows that we’re solving it ourselves.
The desire to make a change — which is President Gutmann’s goal for us as Penn students — characterizes almost every girl whom I’ve encountered throughout my college experience to date. Hundreds of women here are making things happen and taking Penn and the world by storm.
I’ve yet to meet a Penn girl who isn’t passionate about and determined to impact the people around her — whether that means brightening the day of an upset friend or founding an organization whose purpose is to improve thousands of lives.
Whether wearing a suit and Penn tie or a well-suited pencil skirt, every student here is perfectly positioned to effect a change as a leader. The most rewarding projects are those in which men and women join forces. Both genders have disparate, complementary qualities that represent positive leadership traits.
So the best defense against said female leadership issue is to just keep doing our thing. Each and every Penn woman is doing excellent work here.
And rest assured, she doesn’t need a Penn15 to keep it up.
This school is what it is because it is a conflation of so many different ideas that stem from hundreds of diverging and intersecting walks of life.
In 2012, we’re leaps and bounds ahead of our 1740 Penn alumnae, all of whom were men. We are what we are because we work in gender-tandem. Penn15 or no Penn15, we are holding our heads erect.
Ariel Koren, the 2015 Class Board President, is a College freshman from Jacksonville, Fla. Her email address firstname.lastname@example.org.