The Women’s Leadership Initiative envisions a world where gender equity advances opportunities for all.
Diversity matters. Different perspectives, thoughts and ideas lead to more sustainable, creative and powerful groups and institutions. Women’s influence can make a difference in the world, yet we still face discrimination, pay inequities, and remain a minority in leadership roles. In fact, at the rate we are going, it will take 170 years to reach global gender equality in health, education, economic and politics. However, companies with 50% of women in senior operating roles show a 19% higher return on equity.
The Women’s Leadership Initiative works with students, faculty, alumni and the executive community to address these issues by creating conditions for people to become gender savvy, enabling women to have more confidence and competence in achieving their goals and men to have greater understanding of how and why to support women.
See our calendar listings for additional programs and opportunities.
Upside: Achieving Gender Equity in the Next Decade
Join us for our signature event, Upside: Achieving Gender Equity in the Next Decade, where we will convene thought leaders from academia, government and industry to examine how we can make progress in the efforts to bring gender equity to the workforce over the next ten years. Our day-long conference, aimed at professional women and men, will include a variety of programs ranging from TED talk style presentations to interactive panel discussions. Hosted at the state-of-the-art Audion on the University of Delaware STAR campus, the event will provide a platform to further the critical dialogue around topics such as: what the data shows with respect to gender equity, what public policy initiatives contribute to the issue and how men play a key role as allies. Our goal is to further understanding and spark the action that is needed to advance women in the workplace while also providing an opportunity to network.
Our event previously scheduled for October 19, 2020, has been postponed. Please check back for updates or follow us on Twitter
RISE UP: UD’s Leadership Forum for Women
Ready to advance your leadership to the next level? RISE UP
, our executive education program, advances mid-career women in their leadership journey. We draw on our 3C Model of Leadership to help women build clarity of vision for where they want to go, competencies and skills to implement their visions, and communities of peers and mentors to support them along the way. To date, over 30% of the women who have attended the Forum have changed roles or assumed new responsibilities within a year of the program.
Women's Leadership Online Certificate Program
Organizations benefit from diverse leadership, but many women continue to face a variety of challenges in their leadership journey. This timely, interactive program provides resources, mentorship and a dynamic forum where participants can develop clarity, competence and community to support their leadership goals. Expert facilitators lead focused cohorts of 10 women or fewer through the program to enable deeper learning and to build strong professional networks through small group settings. Visit the Women’s Leadership Online Certificate Program
page for more information and to register.
WLI Webinar Series
We face unprecedented times as the pandemic, economic challenges and calls for social change converge to create chaos and uncertainty in our workplaces and personal lives. Now, more than ever, women need to be in places where decisions are made and where change can happen. Join us for a curated webinar series featuring conversations with leading experts who share insights about how you can meet these challenges to effectively and successfully lead in these times. Visit the Webinar Series
for more information, to register for any of the webinars, and to link to videos of our past webinars.
Ascend: Empowering Female Students for Success
The Women’s Leadership Initiative ASCEND certificate program
provides insightful and engaging topics that will develop your leadership skills and give you invaluable opportunities for networking with professional women and other UD students. ASCEND is open to any UD undergraduate students who identify as female. Participants joining for the full program can earn a certification of completion.
Female Faculty Connections: Lerner’s female faculty networking group
The Lerner Female Faculty Connections group meets six times a year, creating opportunities for female faculty to learn from and connect with one another. For more information and dates for our meetings, see our calendar page
News: Women’s Leadership Initiative
- Wendy Smith Receives AMR’s Decade Award - UD Management Professor Wendy Smith and Marianne Lewis, dean of University of Cincinnati’s Linder College of Business, receive Academy of Management Review's Decade Award for their paper, "Toward a Theory of Paradox.”
- First State Insights: Spotlighting Women’s Entrepreneurship - Dr. Amanda Bullough speaks about challenges and opportunities for women in entrepreneurship.
- Outstanding Lifelong Lerner: Maria Gunther - In 2017, Trellist’s Maria Gunther was part of the inaugural class of participants of the Women's Leadership Forum, a program run by the Women’s Leadership Initiative. Gunther, who joined Trellist as a design contractor in 2005, was promoted to Trellist’s CEO in 2021.
- Shaping Women’s Entrepreneurship for Global Success - UD Professor of Management Amanda Bullough calls for a better understanding of gender and culture in positioning women entrepreneurs for worldwide success.
- A Call to Action for Gender Equity - In celebration of International Women’s Day, UD’s Women’s Leadership Initiative raises awareness for equity in the workplace.
Thank you to the WLI Advisory Board for providing governance, advice and support for all of our activities.
Advisory Board Members
Emily Barrosse ’81
Founder and CEO
Bold Story Press
Kristen Clendaniel Clark ‘90
Founder & President
Bouquet Garni Consulting, LLC
Claire DeMatteis ‘87
Governor John Carney
Tamara Ganc ‘94
Sr. Learning Solutions Expert
McKinsey & Co.
CEO, Chief Client Services Officer
Arlene Hogan ‘76
Charlie Horn ‘75
Founder and Chairman
Terri Kelly ‘83
W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc.
Mary Ellen Payne ‘78
SVP, Sales & Marketing (retired)
Family Nurse Practitioner
St. Francis Hospital
Jennifer Rowland ’90
Chief Financial Officer/Chief Audit Executive, CPA, CMA
Girls With Impact
Susan Sears ‘78
Global VP, Diversity & Inclusion (retired)
Michael Sicuranza ‘95
Affinity Wealth Management, LLC
Mary Tilley ’83 & MBA ’93
Enterprise Organizational Development Leader
W.L. Gore and Assoc., Inc.
Nicole Jeter West ‘99
Head of Marketing and Brand Engagement
For more information about the initiative or any of its programs, contact:
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