Women Lead (and WomenLEAD)

I view my perspective on the importance of women’s leadership as more subdued than that of others. This does not mean that I devalue the need for women to enter and thrive in visible positions of leadership. In fact, I’ve been frustrated by some things I’ve overheard in the realm of leadership in surgery over the past couple of weeks.

“Gentlemen, this is the reality we face. And I’m not incorrect in just saying ‘gentlemen,’ because it’s always just all men!”

“‘We also need to include the wives.’ ‘And husbands, right?’ ‘No, just wives. All the invited surgeons are men.'”

However, I don’t believe in contributing to the rhetoric that often champions women above men in order to achieve parity (more thoughts in my blog post about New Feminism and women in medicine). I’m actually not even really sure of the goal in these situations sometimes. Moreover, this argument and the pursuits to realize it don’t seem that effective to me, although they perhaps serve an earthly purpose to stroke my ego (I am only speaking for myself here).

On a similar note, I don’t believe that an overwhelmingly loud voice is necessary to achieve what should be the primary goal: equality of leadership. I am blessed and grateful to be able to utilize several platforms through positions I hold on and off campus to speak my opinions. But often times, I simply strive to have my actions speak louder than my words. I consider myself a leader because I perform meaningful work that fulfills me and makes my community a better place, and most importantly, because I work hard, and sometimes succeed, to help others do the same.

Last Friday, through Rice WomenLEAD (Leading through Empowerment, Affiliations, and Development), I helped coordinate a Welcome Back Dinner for women leaders on campus. First and foremost, I need to thank my co-coordinator Melissa and our staff advisor Ryan. The turnout and program were fantastic–my heart was and still is overjoyed. Second, we were deeply humbled to hear from Graduate Student Association President Cat Majors and Rice University Provost Marie Lynn Miranda. Cat spoke about her mentors in bioengineering who made a lasting impact on her journey. Provost Miranda literally told her story, and wow, what an incredibly powerful and thoughtful tale of triumph, defeat, compromise, and courage throughout it all.

I held back tears at one point because she echoed a line my mom told me once: You will never achieve balance if you think about each day in isolation. You must think about the consequences of your daily actions across a lifetime. You must give a 70:30 ratio on some days, and then a 30:70 ratio on others. I am also deeply touched and inspired to think that every daily action we carry out on this planet is tied together and constructs our greater spiritual embodiment. How eventually we may stand before our family and friends, future generations, and God Himself to proclaim the love and goodness we attempted to seek and give every day and across all the days of our lives! It is easier to reconcile with our universal fate of death if we think about this concept of balance in health and suffering, even if we do not all share the same faith.

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