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      Students Learn to Lean In

      Faculty Help Students Lean In to Combat Gender Biases

      Carlie Sisco, English and creative writing, '19

      lean in book

      Lean In

      A mini-grant funded the purchase of copies of Cheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In for Graduates,” which were distributed to female business students.

      Widener University and the School of Business Administration hosted a fall session of the ongoing Pride Lean In Circle on Nov. 29. Senior Lecturer Lisa Bussom headed the event, which is based on Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg's #1 National Best Seller "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" and her follow-up book, "Lean In for Graduates," which has an addendum that speaks directly to recent college graduates.

      Following the release of her book, Sandberg helped establish the Lean In foundation to encourage women to achieve their goals and strive to change conversations from what they can't do to what they can do. Sandberg and the organization focus on providing women with advice and support to break past gender bias in pursuit of a "more equal world."

      With support from the Student Activities Office and a mini-grant used to purchase Sandberg's "Lean In for Graduates," Bussom took the lead on sharing the Lean In messaging with Widener female students. She initiated the Pride Lean In Circle, running two sessions in the spring of 2016 and the most recent one in November. She plans to host two additional sessions in the spring.

      The Pride Lean In Circle is open to all SBA junior and senior female students. It allows these students to engage with Widener female faculty in an intimate, open discussion about subtle and non-subtle gender biases in the workplace as well as strategies to negotiate them.

      "Based on statistics and anecdotal information, we know that female business students are less likely than their male counterparts to negotiate salaries and are more likely NOT to apply for a job unless they meet nearly all of the position requirements," Bussom said.

      During the November session, Bussom was joined by Professor Yvonne Antonucci, Dean of the School of Business Administration Jayati Ghosh, Assistant Dean Jessica Hoopes, Associate Professor Mary Shoemaker and Assistant Dean Lou Anne Vike. They shared stories about experiences they've faced in the workplace and touched on other topics covered in Sandberg's book, including the importance of mentors, dress code expectations for female professionals and common stereotypes of females in the workplace.

      While the students in attendance seemed optimistic about entering the workforce on equal footing with their male counterparts, they also expressed an appreciation for the Pride Lean In Circle. They noted that the discussions have helped them become aware of behaviors to avoid to maintain this footing and have given them strong female leaders to turn to for advice should they need it now and in the future.


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