On November 20, 2018, a meeting of “Women in Leadership” was held in Plaza 600F. Called by Holly Bolvari (HR), Diane Dupont (Dean of Graduate Studies), and Ingrid Makus (Dean of Social Sciences), the meeting served two purposes.
First, to report on the SWAAC(Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada) conference in Halifax in the spring and the Niagara Leadership Summit for Womenheld in the fall. Both deans attended each event along with other women leaders from Brock. The SWAAC conference had a good Canada-wide representation. The conference will be held in Waterloo next spring which will make it easier to have a strong contingent from Brock participating in it. The deans noted that it is important for faculty members to nominate our students for the SWAAC awards. Surprisingly, the NLSW was little attended by Brock staff and students. Women leaders and aspiring women leaders from Brock should have a strong presence at this event. Individuals should also be mindful that “leadership” is not tied to an actual position and that one may very well be a leader in the community without being a “director,” “chair,” “dean,” etc. As registration and participation in these events can be quite expensive, it was suggested that a fund be put in place by Brock to help support individuals wishing to participate who may not have access to (sufficient) professional development funds. This would be a way to encourage individuals to acquire and develop leadership skills that can lead to their advancement in the institution and increase diversity in the leadership of the institution.
Second, the meeting was a first step toward building a community a practice, that is, a network of trusted advisors. Holly Bolvari is working toward putting in place a mentorship program that will allow for this to be established and provide support for women employees at Brock. The news about the development of this program was welcome by the group in attendance. There is definitely a need for this.
In addition to these important items, the discussion also revolved around collaboration and authentic leadership as well as issues of how to tackle some of the fundamental problems we see individuals face on a day to day basis. It was suggested that the issues are manifold and that it makes it hard to focus on some problems and work toward resolving them. In addition to this, I would add that everyone is so overworked that it is difficult to carve out time to advance any of these issues one may be able to identify, let alone fix them. A case in point for me is the strong response the launch of the Caucus initially received, only to be followed by waning participation. This cannot be a one-woman effort.
Perhaps the meetings of Women in Leadership will generate the space required to gain the focus we need and work together toward solutions. Further meetings are planned for January, February, and March. The Caucus is not planning any further action or meeting since those initiatives are now put in place.