White Women in Leadership: A call to action!


This topic is complicated and the following is simply a tiny drip in a vast body of water and is by no means complete. There is no short answer or quick fix. Only time spent in honest dialogue with one another to continue our growth as leaders.

Nearly 5 years ago I was sitting in a diversity training workshop where the facilitator, a white woman whose name I can not longer remember, proclaimed that it is the white woman in middle management that people of color dislike. Jaws of white women dropped. Heads of people of color nodded in agreement.

She went on to say that, we, as white women, are not allowed to ask people of color about this, if it is true? why? what can we do? Rather, we must sit with one another to unpack our privilege, unlearn racism, and do be better in the middle.

I have had a number of interactions recently that have caused me to reflect back on that training 5 years ago. My fellow white women, we must do better! While we still have a way to go to catch up to our male counterparts who hold senior level positions, our numbers are growing in middle management. Our voice can grow stronger as we gain more and more access to decision making tables. With this growth comes our responsibility to do as the diversity facilitator said; sit with one another to unpack our privilege, unlearn racism, and do better in the middle.

As I continue my journey of learning to improve my leadership, I have come across the following tips and associated resources that might help others on their journey as well:

  1. Unpack Mainstream Feminism and understand why it is racist.
  2. Understand the complexities of the wage gap and how it differs for women of color.
  3. Learn the history of the Pro-Choice Movement and its impact on women of color.
  4. Do your own self work to unlearn racism – do not ask a person of color to teach you.
  5. Understand how encouraging people of color to report incidents to police can be traumatizing.
  6. Examine the history of feminism.
  7. Critically examine the reality of systemic racism and the role it place in the workplace.

These are not in any since of the word a complete list of actions or resources. However, these should get you going down the path to self discovery and ultimately to strong leadership.

We have a responsibility to educate ourselves so that we can do better for all. People of color, and women, struggle in the work place. By taking the time, owning the discomfort of self discovery and learning, maybe we can help make the workplace a bit better for women and other underrepresented groups. We must use our voice at the tables we have access to as middle managers. We must also continue to educate ourselves and think critically about what it really means to lead in an increasingly diverse workplace.

Let’s continue to learn and grow together!

Is your resume ready for the mid-level search? 

The mid-level job search is hard. And that’s a huge understatement. During the entry level search there many jobs available and it is easy to land multiple interviews – lots of attention for the applicants, especially at placement exchanges. The mid-level search can take a year or more to land a job! There are drastically fewer positions available and the competition is much more fierce. As a result, an entry level pro looking to jump up to the mid-level, needs to showcase how much they are on top of their game and it starts with the resume (and cover letter, but today we are going to focus on the resume).

In the last year I have lead three searches for mid-level positions. Below are a few tips I have noticed that could improve the chances of me calling someone for a first round interview!

Entry level humans, please, utilize the many, many resources out there to help you have a resume that shines. If you don’t want to search for other resources, then please, follow the tips below.

  • No body uses objectives any more – get rid of them!

This includes personal narratives as well. These take up valuable real-estate on your resume and don’t exactly tell the reviewer what you have accomplished, which is most important.

  • Education goes at the top of a resume.

I have seen so many resumes that burry education in the middle or end, stop it! Why? Placing your education anywhere other than the top of your resume makes it hard for the reviewer to know (quickly) if you meet the first level screening criteria. This screening could mean revising hundreds of resumes and simply looking for education and years of experience. Don’t get thrown out because you hide your education.

  • Format your resume!

A resume that is difficult to read is not helpful to the reviewer. Save your resume as a PDF before you upload to a job listing to ensure your formatting remains in tact for the reviewer.

  • Make it easy for the reviewer to find the preferred qualifications in your resume.

If the job asks for crisis management experience, list your related experience near the top. If the job asks for assessment experience, list your assessment experience near the top…and so on.

  • Chronological order is king!
  • If chronological order is king then bulleted lists of accomplishments are queen!

Paragraphs make it hard for a reviewer to efficiently identify your fit for the position. On a related note, do not regurgitate your job description on your resume. Rather, tell the reviewer the scope of your responsibilities(amount of budget, number of direct reports, number of students in area of on-call responsibility and so on)  and the accomplishments you have had during your time in each position.

  • APA formatting.

Presentations and publications are to be listed in APA format.

  • General section headers to be listed on your resume include:
    • Education
    • Professional Experience
    • University Service
    • Professional Development – this section is best if it includes experiences beyond conference attendance, which is quite passive.
    • Awards and Honors
    • Certifications
    • Selected Presentations
    • Publications
  • REVIEW before submitting!

One of the single most important things to do with your resume is to have it reviewed…more than once! It can be scary to put yourself out there like that however the alternative is that you submit a resume with a typo or other errors. I am happy to review your resume! I will make it bleed for you so that you can work toward developing your best resume for this point in your career (Anne.R.Stark@gmail.com).

There are many more resources out there. Please use them! Make the reviewer excited to schedule you for an interview after looking at your materials! Look like a badass right out of the gate!

Additional resources:

  1. Dr. Patrick Love offers many great resources on his blog and his book.
  2. HigherEd Jobs provides guidance on resumes and cover letters on their website.
  3. A blog recent blog post from the Student Affairs Collective provides insight: Mid-Level Job Search – When you don’t get the job.