A female future is now: Women in academia

It is rare to attend a university helmed by a female president and academic provost. Trinity students must not ignore how special it is to have our institution led by women. This is one of the reasons why I am so proud to be a Trinity student, especially as a U.S. citizen who has witnessed the ups and downs of women’s rights.

I believe that in order to flip the patriarchal standard that women are not up to the task of leading, more female, qualified leaders must be elected, selected or hired into leadership positions, not only in government but also in academic institutions. Higher learning institutions shape the future leaders of our country, which is why it is vital for students to see women in leadership roles. The more representation for women, the more movement toward equality is possible.

Unfortunately, the U.S. has not had a female president yet, but having our university be led by President Vanessa Beasley and Provost Megan Mustain is a sign of progress because of Trinity’s larger impact on creating young leaders for our country. Last spring, my friends and I hoped that the next president of Trinity would be a woman because it would provide more visibility and representation for a group of young women who are preparing to enter the work force, one which has been shaped by the patriarchy and led by white men.

It is an indescribable feeling to see progress for women because our society still seems to pressure women to do it all by raising families as well as having a career. The women who choose to do both are less likely to be able to advance their academic careers. In academia, 70% of male tenured professors have children, whereas only 44% of female professors have children because the opportunities to further their careers coincide with childbearing years. Having to choose between a family and advancement in your career is rarely, if ever, something men have to deal with.

The advancement of women in academia is challenging in comparison to their male counterparts, yet this has nothing to do with their qualifications to be in the respective positions. It is exciting that Beasley is leading our university, especially since only 30% of college presidents are women. Even more so, it is reassuring that Beasley is capable and qualified to be at the head of our institution. Her work and leadership at Vanderbilt University as vice provost of academic affairs and dean of residential facilities leave me with no doubt that her selection was not because of her gender but because of her qualifications to lead our school.

To be honest, I can’t wait for the day when writers and journalists don’t have to point out that a woman or person of color has earned a high position. I hope instead that we expect the leadership of our institutions and governments to represent what the people of this country actually look like and believe. Until that day, students at Trinity University can look up to Beasley and Mustain and know that Trinity is working towards greater representation of women in leadership positions in order to push back against patriarchal standards.