The Collegian
Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Gender and leadership scholar says discrimination still exists

Alice Eagly, a gender and leadership scholar and the department chairwoman of the psychology department at Northwestern University, spoke in the Jepson Alumni Center to a nearly full audience last night.

The WILL program and the Jepson School of Leadership Studies brought Eagly to the University of Richmond as part of their Rhetoric and Reality: Race and Gender/Power and Politics speaker series. Eagly's lecture was titled "Through the Labyrinth: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Women as Leaders."

Eagly said her discussion was especially relevant because it was the first time a woman had been a serious contender for president. She spent time talking about the struggles that Hilary Clinton faces throughout her lecture.

Eagly discussed the "double bind" that women leaders face, which requires women leaders to be strong and dominant, but consequently leaves room for women to be criticized for being tough and unfeminine, she said. Eagly also talked about how people view men leaders compared to women leaders, and her lecture included a slideshow displaying various graphs and charts, as most of her discussion included evidence-based research.

Crystal Hoyt, an assistant professor in the leadership department, brought Eagly to the University of Richmond. Hoyt said she knew Eagly through her own research on gender and leadership.

"My research stems from her," Hoyt said. "I wouldn't be doing what I do today without her foundation."

Hoyt said she also decided to bring Eagly to campus not only because she fit in well with the Jepson-WILL forum, but also because of the importance of the issues of gender and leadership.

"If you want to have a good scholarly discussion on gender and leadership you go to Alice Eagly," Hoyt said.

Eagly opened her lecture by joking with the audience, humbly saying, "I've never had anyone have to get tickets to my talk before!"

Throughout her discussion, she continued to make the audience laugh, while still discussing very serious topics. The audience included some students, but it mostly comprised community members.

Eagly said she has received many more invitations to talk from colleges and various organizations since the release of her book, "Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders."

She said she can't do all of them because of her job, but she does enjoy the ones she is able to give because of their rewarding nature.

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"I feel like I've got a message I want people to know about," Eagly said. "This group is very receptive so that's gratifying to me. Quite a few of the students have read some of my articles, and that's gratifying because you don't write them in order for them to sit in journals. You hope people read them and can discuss them, so it gives that exchange that makes a scholarly career rewarding."

Eagly said her research is relevant to college students because they have the desire to understand the world around them, especially as more women are becoming leaders in prominent positions.

"Young women are particularly interested in knowing if discrimination is still present, and we have to tell them, 'Yes, it's still present,'" Eagly said. "It's particularly important for women but also for men who want to be fair in their professional lives. In their careers, they don't want to discriminate. People have to understand these dynamics."

All of Eagly's books were available after the talk were sold, and many people lined up to get their new copy signed. Holly Blake, director of the WILL program, said she enjoyed the lecture.

"These are good things for people to think about," Blake said. "We really try to have thought-provoking topics."

The next part of the forum, a panel discussion called "Taking the Nation's Pulse," will be held on Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. in the Jepson Alumni Center.

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