Headshot of Kara Ward

Challenges May Persist, But Chapman Female Leaders Remain Resilient

Over the past five years working in higher education, I have been lucky enough to work with so many strong women committed to fostering leadership in themselves and others. Their acts of resilience, selflessness, and servant leadership, despite systemic barriers, have kept me fueled on the daily.

While I would be remiss not to acknowledge the progress that has been made towards gender equality, it is important to also recognize the challenges that women still face every day. And to also recognize the work that still needs to be done. The gender pay gap is alive and real and continues to disproportionately impact Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) women and women at the intersection of multiple marginalizations. Women continue to face gender stereotypes and microaggressions in the workplace, and lines of equity are often blurred.

The pandemic has certainly highlighted many barriers for women with job losses due to the economic difficulties surrounding COVID-19. Additional challenges include caregiving inequities, the rise of food insecurity in woman-headed homes with children, and increased intimate partner violence. I hope that by naming some of these challenges, we can continue to lift up and support the voices of women and the valuable work that they do on Chapman’s campus.

I have become comfortable with accepting that the only constant is change. Changes in leadership structures and the challenges that come along with them are inevitable in any job. However, experiences like this have helped me become an adaptive leader who commits to learning during unknown times.

I continue to be thankful for spaces like the Advisory Group on the Status of Women that not only focuses on advocacy efforts for women across campus but provides a space where I feel listened to and am made to feel that my words matter. I always leave that space trusting my voice a little bit more and channeling any sort of doubt into motivation to keep going.