Woman in leadership: Feminist Friday dives in deep


Photo: Andrus Nesbitt/Iowa State Daily

The Sloss House is a small wood-framed house off Central Campus, nestled beside Curtiss Hall. The house is a dedicated to the Women’s Center for Gender Equity, and was named after Margaret Sloss.

Caitlin Yamada

Women in leadership have an abundance of barriers they must face to succeed, according to Amber Manning-Ouellette, lecturer in psychology. Manning-Ouellette argues that when women’s leadership is discussed, women’s voices and development must also be explored.

Manning-Ouellette has received a Bachelors of Arts in psychology, a master’s in counselor education and a doctorate of philosophy. All were received at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.

Manning-Ouellette lead a discussion on this topic while providing key strategies and information she has learned through her experiences in leadership and academia.

During her time at Southern Illinois University, she co-coordinated the first annual women’s leadership conference and created a first-year women’s leadership course.

At Iowa State, she also teaches courses on leadership — more specifically, women’s leadership.

There were specific reasons Manning-Ouellette chose to work with college students and be involved in student development.

“When we look at retention, we know that really building leadership capacity in women strengthens their resilience, their resistance, and their persistence through their first year of college,” Manning-Ouellette said.

When she posed the question of why focus should be placed on women in leadership, the concept of the double bind for women was a concern.

Double bind is the concept where women in leadership have to choose between being liked but not respected, or respected but not liked, unlike men in these positions.

“You’re reminded about your space, you’re reminded about your place often,” said Lorraine Acker, program coordinator for the women’s center. “We see a lot of women this semester that are stepping out of feminine roles and being confident of who they are, they’re often reminded that that’s not very ladylike.”

Manning-Ouellette further explained that women tend to operate on a communal operation style and how leadership has been constructed from a men’s leadership style.

“We’ve made progress, and we certainly see the capacities of who can be in leadership roles expand over time, but when we look at high level positions; the representation of gender in leadership roles, there is a large gap,” Manning-Ouellette said.

Imposter syndrome is also a concept that can come in the way of women in leadership.

Impostor syndrome is a concept describing people who have an inability to internalize their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.

“One of the reasons why we need to talk about these things is we create language and when we can name what we experience, we can collectively talk about it,” Manning-Ouellette said. “We can say ‘I experience that too.’”

Manning-Ouellette ended with a call to action.

“Continue the conversation. Use your voice. You are important and you are significant,” Manning-Ouellette said.

Some books to reference on this topic are “In a Different Voice” by Carol Gilligan, “Women’s Ways of Knowing” by Mary Field Belenky and “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof.