Women on the Rise (Video)

​​Women on the Rise: A Discussion on Pathways to Ascend into Senior Leader Roles

Hello and thank you for tuning in to Women on the Rise, A Discussion on Pathways to Ascend into Senior Leader Roles. This timely and needed discussion is one of a series of monthly panels by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, or ODEI for short. The ODEI is located within the division of Social Responsibility and Inclusion. An operational support area that serves an integral role in advancing Dallas College's institutional commitment to inclusion, equity, and belonging for all people. I am Dr. Jasmine D. Parker, Senior Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Dallas College is committed to highlighting topics that we'll advance our knowledge and understanding to bring about greater inclusion, community-based belonging and care. An aspect of this work is the centering of lesser known lived experiences and having transparent discussion by naming obstacles impacting marginalized groups of people throughout our nation, city and community. Through candid conversation, it is our hope that we as an institution, will model holistic, equity minded and intentionally inclusive transformation in heart, mind, policy, and practice. This month, we have chosen to honor Women's History Month by elevating the experiences of women trailblazers who by many accounts have and continue to defeat adversity while both living authentically and demanding better conditions for us all. In honor of this effort and commitment, I am pleased to introduce Brookhaven campus president, Dr. Linda Braddy, who will be interviewing our panel. Dr. Braddy serves our Dallas College Brookhaven campus, where she is responsible for leading initiatives that contribute to the vibrancy, growth, and economic stability of Dallas County. Throughout her career, she has leveraged her research training and mathematics to advocate for faculty support, development and strategic leadership. After successfully navigating the tenure and promotion process and becoming a full professor of mathematics at East Central University in Oklahoma, she remained committed to inclusive based practices by climbing the academic and leadership rungs, serving in various deanships, by supporting math faculty across the United States as Deputy Executive Director of the Mathematical Association of America. Prior to ascending to the Dallas College Brookhaven campus presidency, she served as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Tarrant County College Northeast Campus, where she oversaw several academic units. Welcome President Braddy.

Thank you, Dr. Parker. So I wanted to start by introducing our panelists to you. Dr.Iris Freeman on my left. She serves as a passionately committed leader with more than 20 years of higher education experience, encompassing various roles devoted to student and community success, leadership academics and diversity, with an extensive background in leadership strategic planning, advancement and development, and workforce development. Her experience spans across Dallas College. As a community college leader, she authentically uses a lens of equity to design, deliver, and evaluate all aspects of Dallas College structure to fulfill its mission externally and internally. Iris is a native Missouri, been born in Kansas City, who now resides in De Soto, Texas with her husband William. They enjoy movies, family adventures, traveling, and spending time with their wonderful son and daughter Will and Dara.

Next we have Dean Cynthia Aguilar as Dean of Students and Student Engagement. Dean Aguilar is responsible for overseeing the multicultural affairs team, student code of conduct, student life, student engagement, and the fitness centers. As a child of immigrant parents, she has a passion for helping underserved populations achieve their educational goals. She understood the concerns and challenges the students faced because she was one of them. She believes it's our responsibility as educators to help remove barriers for minority students and support and encourage their college success and future careers.

And finally, we have Dr. Veronique Tran. Dr. Tran is the founding Vice Provost of the School of Manufacturing and Industrial Technology (MIT), having joined Dallas College in 2020. She has more than 30 years of experience in industry, research and higher education leadership. As an engineer in the energy industry and college leaders supporting STEM and technical careers, she has overcome barriers as a woman leader in traditionally male spaces.

Dr. Tran is a breast cancer survivor, married to her high school sweetheart and the proud mother of two adult sons. So, thanks for being here with me today. I've really been looking forward to having a conversation with you all. We agreed we're just going to go on a first-name basis and just have this be a conversation among friends. So let's jump right in. The first question is related to a Gallop, a recent Gallup poll, it said that there are more than 5 million jobs available today. But women continue to drop out of the workplace in alarming numbers. Nearly half of women say that they're looking for or considering new positions. This is a two-part question. Why do you think women are leaving the workplace? And what aspects of the workplace do you think women find unsatisfactory?

So Iris, do you want to start us off on this one? [Iris] Sure. I think that women are leaving the workplace because they're not being heard. There's a lot of assumptions being made on what those needs are, what perspective and contributions they can make, and I think that they're finding themselves boxed in and looking for other avenues to be able to fully make an impact. And then I think that the second part of the question was more about what aspect, [Linda] What aspect do you think they find more unsatisfactory? [Iris] Probably their voice not being heard, but the inequity in pay, that's still a big one. And I think that there's evidence of our contribution, and it's a big contribution. I think there's more of us around to make a big statement to say, we need to pay attention, everybody else needs to pay attention. and we need to level the playing field and pay people accordingly for the talents and the contributions that they make. [Linda] Great points. [Linda] Do you all want to add? [Veronique] Yeah, I wanted to add a couple of points to that. I think one, with the pandemic and the experience of working remotely, I think that women realize that they can make productive contributions working remotely. And then so the flexibility of being able to do that and still take care of the family, balancing family and career. And so then coming out of the pandemic, they're looking for other alternatives in terms of work schedule like that, maybe not have been available in the past, right? So, I think that's part of it as well. as a reason why they're leaving what was their job, right? Then the, the industry or the company transitions to, now we're all going back, right, then they're questioning well, do I want to go back? Because having this flexible schedule that allows me to balance both family and career, um, has worked for the past 24 months, so forth.

So now I'm seeking a job where I can still do that. I think that then they feel more empowered that those opportunities exist. Yeah, yeah, [Cynthia] I'd like to piggyback on that. I mean, when we look at our students, not just the ones leaving the workforce when we did our women's empathy calls what we found is the pandemic also wreaked havoc in our female students. They're the ones that dropped out at the highest rate. and that is because they were at home. They were having to do the homeschooling for the children, but you're right. A lot of women were having to balance what they are actual career goals were what their family and some of them were giving up those career goals because they couldn't make it fit with their family's schedule. But the pandemic now has brought out new skills and new flexibility and these women that they know their worth. and I'm happy to hear what Dr.Freeman was saying or iris, I'm sorry, that us women we're starting to come up. We're starting to get empowered and say, I know my worth and I'm gonna own my worth and I know this is what I'm entitled to as a woman to do. I can still be a contributor to society, um, but I'm also going to find what fits best me and my family. [Iris] You know, I agree with both of you. I think it's a combination of the timing of empowerment and the recognition of the talent that you have. I think for many years, we did not acknowledge our contribution and talents that we have.

And if you're not gonna make a space for me, traditional workforce, there's a lot of women making their own spaces. I think that's phenomenal. I met a lady in San Antonio, she's 78 And she started a whole another business like two years ago at the height of the pandemic, she was already an entrepreneur, but I think that that space is, I still have more to give and I can't fit it here I'll make a place for myself and others like me. [ Cynthia] We are seeing a lot of women wanting to create their own businesses so that they can be empowered and have a say so at table as well. [Linda] All great points, leads right into my next question which has to do with Impostor syndrome. Because what you all are saying is making me think so maybe, maybe some of us are getting over some of that. I don't know, that's been a problem. Historically, traditionally, we think of women as being more susceptible to Impostor syndrome. and so I kind of looked up sort of how does the internet describe Imposter syndrome? And it said, it can interfere with one's ability to feel confident about your accomplishments. It disproportionately affects high achieving people, which women in leadership roles they're gonna be high achieving or they wouldn't have gotten there. And it causes them to a doubt their abilities and feel like a fraud. Been there, Done that. I'm sure you all have too. And so they question whether they really deserve any accolades they get. So you all were sort of making me wonder, well I don't know? So do you think that's still as much of a problem? And do you think that women are more susceptible to Impostor syndrome than men?

And if so, why do you think so or if not, why do you think not? Cynthia, do you want to start on this one? [Cynthia] Sure. And I do believe that women suffer a lot more from imposter syndrome. I know when I got this job, I most like me? But also coming from immigrant parents growing up and I feel I've come a long way and I've tried to pave the road for people, but even the women following me, they have that Imposter syndrome. and even going through my doctoral studies now, I feel like am I good enough to be this? Or like I sat with my mentor and it's like, what is my next step? And then I feel like am I good enough to do that? But in my Hispanic family come from Mexico, there's also that sell out because the woman supposed to stay home. And I still remember saying I'm gonna go to college and I went away for college, away from my hometown. And they still remember a cousin saying, no, but why are you going to school? You're gonna get married, you're gonna have kids like why are you wasting your time? And so that really has stuck with me all through these years and that Imposter syndrome has really set in a lot of times, a lot more than once. Like at first I felt like I was selling out to my culture. but then it's like no, I don't have to adapt to my culture. Like I can, I can soar and still help my culture and come up, so. [Veronique] Good. I think for me.

Having like in the intro you're talking about me navigating male spaces, not having female role models and mentors in engineering, and working for Shell in the oil industry and so forth that it's really, I think that Imposter syndrome mentality seeps in because you don't see others that have gone before you. And so on. a lot of points in my life, I've been the first to do this, the first to do that. You know, I'm kinda had to prove myself. And it was through the support of male mentors actually that pointed to that it was me that was limiting myself. And I didn't realize that I was doing it. I think it gets into that mentality of the Imposter syndrome.

And I remember very clearly, I had reached out to him recently because it's been 20 years. I can't believe it's been 20 years since I was completing my PhD in Biomedical Engineering, which was actually here at UT Southwestern is a joint program with UT Arlington. So this is my second stint in Dallas. But when I was searching for my post-doc research opportunities, I only was focused on Houston and Rice University because they had a bioengineering department. my family was there and my graduate adviser and mentor asked me what type of research really interests you. I said, well, [?] delivery and social engineering. And he said, What are the top labs and drug delivery in tissue engineering? Why are you limiting yourself to just Rice and Houston? And here I thought I was like opening myself, you know, research institutions and so forth. But he really opened my mind that it was me who was limiting myself, so from that conversation I did research on the top labs and applied to all these programs and kind of like cold e-mailed these leading investigators and they all invited me for interviews. So I went on this marathon interview through Cornell and Yale University of Michigan, [?] and all these top places that I never would have navigated myself without him pointing that out to me. And then I was so fortunate then to be offered a post-doc fellowship at Yale and moved my family with two young boys that I had in graduate school up there.

But that would have never happened had it not been for really good male role models, you know. And so that's the other thing is that if we're in a space where there aren't many female leaders that we can look to, male leaders who really care and want to nurture you and your career. So that was a lesson that still sits with me today in terms of it's me who's limiting myself and not anyone else.

[Iris] I agree with you in what resonated with me is, with that comes the uncomfortable space. And you talked about being the first and when you are the first or you are the loner, it's an uncomfortable place to push yourself and realize too, that first you have to deal within yourself that that Imposter syndrome is resonating first within, even though there's external stimuli that helps that as well. But it is, and I think that when we don't partner with people along the way, you tire or easy, easily and you buy more into the fact that maybe I don't belong here or I am an impostor. But part of the encouragement for me is I still have young women even on my team. I've had one in particular. just verbally tell me I just cannot believe you gave me this job. I looked in the mirror and I just felt like an impostor. I am not equipped. I'm not qualified. I don't know what he saw in me. I know I applied for it. But I think when we are in those spaces, we have to remember that we were there too, and we could be there again and just help people along and really acknowledge the reality of that and not try to just kinda cover it up and act like it doesn't exist because it does exist. And there's a lot of research that supports that women, we do do that to ourselves probably longer than, than we should. And that's why we find a lot of women in their late forties and 50s rediscovering and actually making that push. But we can help, I think women a little bit younger along the journey or anyone not, who's experiencing that, not experienced that. And then there's a Harvard research about how men just don't care. They just say, yeah, yeah I got some transferable skills, I probably could do it. We're just not like that, but we'd probably need to encourage each other to say, get out there and don't limit ourselves. and you'd never can. I mean, it's especially like Linda was saying I mean, most of us are high achievers. So if you don't have it, you'll figure it out, you'll get there, your equipped enough.

[Cynthia] And it brings me back to research. I also read about how we self- sabotage. and they were talking about men going out if they can do 50% of the job, they're gonna apply for it. For women, we look at the job description like, oh no, I don't do just this one thing I can't apply. [Iris] If we don't do 101% we're not going for it. I think as women we sabotage ourselves. [Iris] You're right. [Cynthia] I think we're more than capable to be executive leaders at a higher level than, than men do. [Linda] You know, more than once you all alluded to this idea of the relational aspect, working with people as part of a team and the male mentors coming along. I think we, as we get older and farther along in our career, we do have an obligation to help women who are younger than us because I can see that over the years even though I'm not, I still suffer from Imposter syndrome it's not as severe as it used to be. And I used to be way less secure than self-confident, than I am now. And so I've seen in my daughter who was in her thirties, this struggle of I don't check every single box on the job and I'm like You need to apply, but I can't do that one thing and I just feel like I'm beating my head against the wall to try to get her to see that it's, nobody's gonna check all the boxes. And so anyway, we do self-sabotage, right? And hold ourselves back because we don't have the confidence, which is why we, with the women's ERG we have 400 members now and we have quite a few who are allies. And so for any of the men who are watching this, I just want to encourage you to understand how important your role is in developing women as well, and being advocates for them, sponsors, for them, not just mentors, but actually sponsors and putting their name forward for things and that kind of thing. [Iris] Good point. So the next question has to do with the fact that all women, all employees, but we're talking about women in particular, should have opportunities to learn and grow and develop throughout their career. It turns out that 45% of employed women say they would like to become a CEO or other senior leader. I didn't realize it was 45%. What do you think are the obstacles that get in the way of such opportunities? and how do you think Dallas College and other organizations can create opportunities that enable women to maximize their leadership potential? So Veronique, do you want to start this one? [Veronique] Yeah.

I mean, I think that what limits us here is that really, it goes down to organizational structure and positions and opportunities for advancement, If you have, if the organization is designed in such a way that there aren't clear ways that somebody could advance. Then at some point that woman will feel like they're being stifled, right? How do I, if there's not a clear track for me to advance in this career then either I'm gonna leave Dallas College or I'm just gonna dissatisfied to a point because we're always wanting to grow. I think like for each of us in our careers, especially women, we get very uncomfortable being stagnant, right? We're always wanting to learn, always wanting to grow. And so if our structures are set up in a way where it promotes that, then I think that's something that we need to work on. The other part of it is opportunities outside of your current job that you could get involved with. Because that's where you gain the skills that you may not have. Because if you were only focus on your current position, then you're not growing in terms of what additional skill sets that you're gaining, right, because you're looking to see what my next level of advancement and that position isrequires other skills different than what you are now. So that's the other piece of it in terms of professional development. But developing leaders is that what does it take for somebody to go from where they are now to the next one? And we need to provide that training so that they can gain those skills, not just training, but hands-on opportunities. Whether it's serving on a committee, being named to a cross functional project. These are the ways that people can stretch and learn skills beyond what their current job is. [Cynthia] I also went to piggyback on that and I think we do have a potential to make a great impact as women, not just at Dallas College, but in the whole Dallas metroplex community. And what I'd love to see is kind of like a career track for all but mainly aimed at women because you're right. I remember I'm saying well I'm fine where I'm at but you've got a lot of potential like why not? Why not reach for the stars here? I'd like to see like a fellowship program so that we can grow our women. And so I know that I know the mentors are the little mentees that I have.

Women. We do a goal mapping session for them. And so kind of like what do we have to do to get to your next step? And sometimes it might be reaching outside of Dallas College, but sometimes it's like okay, reach out to so and so and asked him if he could shadow them or ask them, you know, what skills they think of there. I'm dream position and I said, okay, talk to that person and tell them what do I need. I'd like to see that mentorship, that Fellowship for aspiring young females that they can see I'm on this track to succeed. [Iris] No, I agree. And that makes me just think kind of two-sided there's structurally but culturally.

The encouragement of other women to other women, needs to improve.It doesn't have to be a competition. It's really just helping someone find their way, their path and then the other it makes me think about when you said that you were sitting and saying, Well, I'm fine where I am. Sometimes that's also, somebody will notice me and they'll notice I'm doing a great job. And then I will advance. and I guarantee most guys don't do that. They'd go and find and they seek out. And so I think the mentor, mentee relationship helps. When you said, hey, go to Dr. Tran and ask her can you shadow, that puts that ownership into the person's hand and moves them out of maybe somebody I'll notice that I'm such a hard worker and I have great talent. {Linda] That is so true.

I was department chair and what really pushed me to apply for a dean's position elsewhere I had to leave my University where I've been for 11 years as faculty member and leave my hometown to do this. But I went to a workshop that was for women in higher ed and the lady said, women, it just like women don't ask, women don't negotiate. There's all these things women don't do. One of the things she said was we sit and wait for somebody to a tap us on the shoulder and say, you'd be great at that you should apply. And that's exactly what I was doing. I was waiting on somebody to notice that I'm such a great chair, I'm such a great faculty member, whatever. And so yeah, we definitely have those tendencies as women and so that's another way we can mentor younger women, right, coming along in their careers behind us to help them realize, we can't just sit and wait for [?} [Iris] Well I definitely do because I don't want them to make the same mistake I did. I was probably, I don't know, 55-60% percent of my roles here In the tap on the shoulder and that's not the most effective way to do this. It's not a planned career track. [Linda] That's right. She encouraged us to be deliberate and make deliberate decisions. Don't sit and wait on somebody to notice and tap you on the shoulder? [Iris] Absolutely. [Linda] So there is a thing, there's something to be said for we talked about the difference in the gender, gender issues. And so things can, men can do things that are perceived as ambitious and a go-getter, if we did exactly the same thing they would, we would not be perceived the same. So we do have to understand there are different kinds of expectations. And so that leads into my next question. According to the Texas Women's Foundation, women are under- represented at top and top levels of leadership. You guys are, I'm sure you're all aware of that. Even though women hold 52% of all professional jobs, only about 15% of executive positions are held by women. So my question is about stereotypes that prevent women from succeeding. So what do you think the stereotype types are and how do we overcome them? And I was thinking as Veronique was saying earlier about women, women in engineering, so I was a mathematician, a woman in math. My first semester of grad school, I was in a class of 50 students. Two of us were women in an engineering type course. And so when I was in DC, there were older women in the profession around me and I remember, I'm known for often wearing sparkly pink or purple nail polish, which I was wearing that day. And she goes, Oh, look at your nail polish and you don't look like a mathematician. It was not affirming and supportive to me because I didn't look like a mathematician or whatever. And so we were talking earlier about men being supportive and mentoring, but we also have acknowledged we as women need to do that as well. So Iris you want to start on this one? [Iris] Well, well that's a big one.

I think the point that you just raised is, I think it's, the onus is on us as women to help push that change in perception. I'm not positive. I don't have any research. I know a quoted research on another question to say, I'm sure, but I just feel like I've got too many men haven't said Did you see Dr. Tran head on sparkly nail polish? Women? If we want to shift. Yeah. You know that those things don't speak to the quality or the talent of the individual.

We have to be the ones that, that break those barriers down. and for like a bit of word, quit making it a thing.

Most of the advice I've gotten about, I'm sure at 1 it probably was very important maybe in when women really started getting in the workforce for men, for us to kind of level the playing field, to not draw attention to things when you're the only woman in the room. And then you have a huge bouffant hairdo that may be a little distracting to somebody, hear you, but I think it past that now. And I just think that we hope we think that now we can, can help to break those barriers. To say, no, it shouldn't be a distraction. I don't think that those are the people paying attention to those things. I think it's us still carrying that on because most of the time that I've gotten some of those kinds of non-constructive criticism really came from a female counterparts. You wearing in that nail polish? Yep. Yeah. Your hair's too long and your hair is too short. Don't wear a skirt there, there's gonna be too many men there. Those things, I think, have been just kinda still dribble over and I think they help for us not to build our confidence because now it's like, okay, there's something yet else wrong with me, that I don't fit. I'm not considered important in the conversation or I don't have very much to contribute, makes us self-conscious and then we hold back. I agree with that. I think sometimes those women are our own worst critics. [Cynthia] And sometimes inadvertently we push each other down what we're not supposed to or I've heard conversations like within my friends while I'm delaying on having a baby, because the way I'm gonna be perceived and I'm on this career track or I'm not, I'm going to have a family because of this. So, it's a stereotype that working woman can't do at all. That something has to give. So I think that we need to, like Iris said, we need to break those stereotypes and break those barriers and actually break through the glass ceiling.

[Iris] No, I agree. It makes me think also about the fact that if there is some of that that has to be dealt with, you still know it's just a talent that we have to have or a skill I should say, of knowing your audience. So if you do enter into that space where you've already prepped yourself and you know that that audience is gonna be distracted if you wear pink nail polish. Just go ahead and deal with it so that we can make the progress, right? Yeah.

But using it as a blanket, I think is where we need to make a real change. But be very mindful that we know some audiences still does exist. and you have to figure out, it's not so much about you as a woman, but how can I most effectively impact or make waves with the audience I'm gonna be in front of. [Veronique] I think, when you were talking about stereotypes, being in a STEM field as engineer, you know, and then I graduated like early nineties and I was after a year sent on a field assignment where I lived in Michigan for a year for Shell and I was the first field operations engineer, right? So my first day when I came they were like oh, are you our new assistant? Because they wouldn't think a petite Asian lady was gonna be their engineer. And so there were a lot of preconceived ideas about women not being able to understand science, not being able to solve problems. And the way that I was able to overcome that is just by action. Showing them by the time a couple of months in I was helping them to improve their bottom line. They can see their revenue is going up then now they're like, can you stay longer? Have to go after a year, you know, but so I think that's the thing is that kinda acknowledging it, been away for me just ignore it and just forge through and show them that you are more than capable of instead of doing the job and above what the job requires. And I've been I've had to go into that type of environment time and time again and you just prove yourself by the actions and your contributions that you put forth. [Linda] So yeah.

[Linda] So yeah. Some of the funniest airplane conversations I have had ever had center around what I do. You sit down, chat with somebody and what do you do? And then if I say math professor or whatever, inevitably I get, really... you know, in your life, thanks. It's the stereotype thing. And you were talking earlier about knowing your audience. So, it reminded me when we were doing the Women's ERG, the coaching that we did over a year ago when women were gonna be applying for positions in the new organizational structure. And so, a piece of advice that I always gave them was what I learned at that conference where they were saying, don't wait on somebody to tap you on the shoulder. And it had to do with understanding that we are judged at times by what we wear or what we look like or whatever. and they said, don't wear dangly earrings, don't wear sparkly nail polish. Don't because, it was less about sort of that I'm going to confirm or not confirm. It was more about don't do anything to take yourself out of the conversation. Don't, don't do anything that's going to distract from what you want them to hear that you're saying during the interview? I have done that in the past. Make sure it might not be what I always would wear. And I did struggle a little bit. Well, is that going to be inauthentic and that's not really me, but it's more about don't do anything that takes you out of it and automatically just because you have a pink skirt on or whenever it is. Because I've heard you've been on interview committees where when a woman leaves and somebody comments on what she was wearing in your like Um, so yeah, that should not be an issue, but it is, it is. [Iris] That's a really good point because it's hard to figure out the balance there because hopefully when we're in the space where maybe that happens then we can contribute to help shift that, that really wasn't the focus of the conversation. She had a pink skirt on because maybe she didn't get that memo. But as an African American woman, my hair can be a distraction or take me out of a conversation and I can't help what grows out of my scalp, then you have to kinda help people to know that these are some things that may distract or if you really are adamant to wear dangly earrings then these are some of the things that you can do to make sure that you can control the conversation to where they hear you, and then that element that's about you is not a distraction. [Linda] Great point, right?

[Linda] Great point, right? Okay, So the next question, and we're gonna start with Cynthia on this one. What are some of your challenges you have faced in your rise to this senior leadership role, and what advice do you have for women who may be facing challenges similar to yours? [Cynthia] Well, the Impostor syndrome for sure that we talked about earlier where I've self-sabotaged a lot. I've had to work with a life coach and a professional coach to helped me see that you are bright.

You can do this. I think a lot of the obstacles that I've had really, I've imposed on myself. Instead of, I've never had a man, like Iris said, tell me, Oh, you can't do this. But I think as a woman, you know, I've, I've thought, well, can I do this? Am I not able to do that? And I mean, I still think back what drives me. I still remember when I first got the deanship, and somebody was referred to me as student code of conduct. And so my admin came in and gave me the paperwork and I stepped outside and I said the young lady's name and she looked up and I was reviewing her case and she's sitting there like nervously. And she's like, when do I get to see the dean? And I was like, you are talking to her and I remember how her eyes, a young Latina, light up and she's like, Oh, I was expecting a white man when you came and get me. And then I realized I've got to do something to change this and continue my trajectory so that other young, like Iris said, so that they don't make the same mistakes that we did because Impostor syndrome. That's the advice I would give the younger generation is find a mentor, find someone that looks like you or that's even a minority or that has the role that you want and be bold and go and talk to them and say, I do want to be in the STEM field or I do want to be Chief of Staff one day.

How do I get there and not be ashamed, I just had lunch with my mentee the other day and she was kind of shy. She's like, Wow, I'm bored, I'm not being challenged. And I said, So what is your next goal? So I tried to give them the advice I would give my younger self if I was in their shoes. But I think my obstacles have been self-imposed more than anybody else imposing them on me. [Linda} Good point.

[Veronique] Well, for me I've had some personal experiences where fellow female leaders have felt threatened. And it was something that I didn't expect because you'd think oh we're the the same tribe, and we'll be nurturing. And then what I found is that the higher I ascended into leadership roles, that my success somehow made them feel threatened by that. And it's happened unfortunately about three times. and so that was something that was a challenge that I totally caught me off guard. And then now I've learned to recognize it, you know, that unfortunately not all women leaders are there to be supportive. And it's unfortunate, I don't, I don't know how we can overcome that as as, as women together, but in my mind, there are plenty of leadership opportunities like you were just saying, There's only 15% of women. Yeah, there's like 85% men staffed leadership positions, that there's plenty to go around. So like my success does not mean that your success is diminished in any way. And that's that was a challenge that I totally did not expect. as, as I've gone higher into leadership positions. Yeah. [Iris] I've had some of those same experiences. And when I think of some of the challenges it makes me reflect that I had to just deal with each challenge in its unique way and come to the reality that I couldn't sit there, that somebody's going to tap me on my shoulder and find me. But also know that the challenges are real, but they don't have to stop me and that I need to seek out a mentor or an advocate, but also build my skills as an advocate for myself. And then that helped because I knew that a challenge could show up. If I have the ability to advocate for myself, if I hadn't been able to enlist support around me, which generally especially here, I have been able to then I will be prepared to work through whatever those were and then hopefully be prepared to help someone else behind to recognize that these are some of the things you can face in here. Some of the things that can help you if you face those challenges, are you in any kind of challenges you may face? I think as a woman, we've always, we've already talked about our common challenges, but then we add the added layer of minority, even age, some of the challenges that I speak with some of the women in our, in our structure that are younger. They feel very undervalued because of their age. Then you get to the other end when we get a few more grades and then you start to feel that again and those are gonna be there. But what do we do in not sabotaging ourselves, but hopefully equipped in ourselves to work through? Veronique spoke of and overcome those and accept the reality of some of them that we would like for other women to be our tribe. But they're not.

And it just is what it is and don't let it stop you. And I say that because even though I was very young, I started out as I architecture engineering student. I didn't have a support and I didn't know how to go and find me a support. And I changed my major because I was the only woman. I was the only African American. I would go to class and there would be all of my drawings would either be removed alive, pens or paper. And it was just I was alone. I didn't have the ability to advocate for myself and so I would never want any other person, but especially a young woman to have to do that. And so I'll try to share that story, share hindsight of what I would have told it other iris back in the day. [Linda] My younger.

[Cynthia] And I think its teaching young women like you said, not to conform or not to say, okay, this is, this is all I'm supposed to be, but actually said teaching them those advocacy skills where you stand up for yourself and go after what you believe in and that you're capable of doing. And I just take the first no and have it diminished you and that's your end-all. Maybe your first no or ten no's before you get that yes. [All] Yeah, absolutely. By having that grit too.

[All] That's a good one. Yeah. Yeah. Good one. [Linda] Yeah.

I was thinking as you were mentioning, seeking out mentors, some advice I got one time about how do you find a mentor. One thing you can do is go to someone like you can just ask them straight out if you're not comfortable saying "Would you be my mentor?" Because what if they say no? Is to say what's your best career advice for me? I did that at one point when I was still at the university as a faculty member, and they said, Well, you know, what are your career goals and what I had, what I was advised is that they will, they may see fit to kind of take you under their wing or whatever. Or at least you can go back to them periodically and ask, for ask for advice. and so that was really good for me. I also, now this was back there has been several years ago. So maybe this is less of a thing, but I was advised to find a male mentor because they know how to maneuver that good old boy system. That's exactly what this lady told us. And it turned out that I had a male mentor in higher ed at a different institution that through a professional development program I had gone through and he became a sponsor and put me up for things and that kind of thing. And to this day, he is still a mentor. So it's been over 20 years. Some of them work out well. Some of them kind of fizzled, don't work out so well. But you keep seeking, seeking someone, kind of making yourself available, letting it be known. And the Women's ERG is working on getting a mentoring program going. We did the short-term coaching. And so one of the things we heard from women at Dallas College is that the need, the desire for mentoring. So you'all also talked about culture. You were talking about the tribe and people being threatened and unfortunately, some people do see it as a zero-sum game. If I win, you have, somebody has to lose. We can't all win. And I even heard from a young woman in, who was a mathematician when I was at the MAH, who said, but there are only so many positions. And if you get it, that's one fewer for me, kind of a thing. And so I do think we can influence the culture broadly, even beyond Dallas College in that way. And I think that's a responsibility that we should feel. Not just to mentor people one-on-one, but what can we do to influence the culture to be more like who cares, what shoes you wear? Like, why does that have to be a thing? Yeah. Yeah. Good good conversation. We're going to have a final comments. I'm gonna give you an opportunity to have any final comments that you want to share with any of the viewers, anybody want to volunteer to start? Do you have anything you'd like to add, something you wanted to talk about that we didn't get to?

[Veronique] Yeah. I'd like to share some thoughts in terms of what we talked about, how it's important to have mentors and seek out mentors.

I think, in addition, for women of color, there's an added layer of additional, more stereotypes and lenses that they need to navigate. I know for me going to an Asian leadership conference or professional development like you had mentioned, like 20 years ago, was very impactful for me because it opened a lot of eyes. Opened my eyes to what others perceive that I wasn't really aware of as a woman, as an Asian woman. So I wanted to leave with that thought that it's already hard enough. I think being a woman and then being a woman of color is added. Challenges in that.

[Linda] Great point. [Cynthia] And for me. I mean, I would encourage rising leaders or even are college students to be bold, to take the challenge, to not let, like I said earlier, your first no be your end-all, be-all but dream do a concept map.

It's like I tell them you're not gonna get from being coordinator to being president one day. But what are the steps you can take in between and map out what that goal looks like and be realistic about that, about that goal. I, like Veronique said, being a minority woman, yes, it's a little bit more challenging, but it is doable. I mean, if us women here can do it, they can do it as well. So I would encourage them to have that grit, that determination, and don't let anyone derail you because I, I mean, I've heard people and I've even had people say that, like, you'll never get there. But then it's been my pleasure to say, Oh, yeah, I'm here now. and pave the road for your next... [all] Definitely.

[all] Definitely. Yeah. [Iris] I mean, you guys have said it all. I haven't much to add other than everything that you said, I would reiterate and be bold, be an advocate for yourself, be intentional. We definitely want to do that and don't let people define you. Know that you're gonna have the challenges now that you're gonna have to work through them as a woman. and what other layers you have with that. and I'd put a period there. Just don't let others explain you or define you and let them experience you. [Linda] Great, great point, great way to wrap up. So thank you all for being with us. I really enjoyed the conversation with all of you. And I just want to leave you with the challenge that you will see it as your responsibility to do what you can to change the culture so that women can get the kinds of opportunities that they deserve to have. and so that we don't have so many women struggling with Impostor syndrome and facing so many barriers. So think about what you can do in your role. Wherever you are, whatever stage of your career, whether you're male, female, whatever race, ethnicity, any of those factors. And just think about how you can make an impact and really leave things better than you found it.