On Jan. 30, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University returned with the Eagle Leaders Series; the school’s innovative new program to improve student’s leadership skills. The course is designed to advance students’ abilities in communication, influence, productivity, and team cohesion. The topic for January was ‘Gender Difference in Leadership.’ The theme was centered on creating an effective balance between the qualities of both genders to succeed in a diverse, team-based environment. An additional topic discussed was the power of a positive attitude.

The session was presented by Dr. Melanie Wilson; the Director of the Women’s and Diversity Center at ERAU. The course was engaging and thought-provoking. The norms and stereotypes of gender were discussed, analyzed, and criticized, including how different cultures throughout the world view gender roles. The terms ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ have no exact and concrete meaning as they are very fluid terms across time and location. An interesting term; ‘genderlect’ was analyzed. It is a term coined to describe that the conversation of men and women are not right/wrong or superior/inferior, they are just simply different. In order for someone to be an effective leader, he or she must be completely tolerant, open-minded, and recognize the impracticality of traditional and conservative views. A truly effective leader optimizes the qualities in both genders in a pragmatic method to achieve goals within a team.

Dr. Wilson enthusiastically said “I was glad when Teri Poucher asked me to do a presentation on Gender and Leadership.  So many of our students have background in Science and Technical areas, and they have not have had much time to explore within the social sciences.  I believe a study of sex roles and gender in our society is crucial to understanding how women and men interact in all aspects of our culture. This opportunity gave me the chance to bring my Women’s Studies teaching experience to the students and staff.  Our students don’t often discuss what it’s like to be female and male in our culture, or others.  Ideas about femininity and masculinity pervade our schools, our workplaces, our churches, our military, and every other institution and system in the US.  We had a chance to make visible some hidden assumptions, and give the participants a forum to explore the ideas and make some conscious choices based on the information they received.”

Another topic discussed was the power of a positive attitude and the impracticality of pessimism. There’s a direct correlation between maintaining a positive attitude and better relationships, improved health, and greater success. A positive attitude can boost your energy, heighten willpower, and inspire others. Positive thinking decreases depression, reduces levels of stress, boosts the immunity, and improves the overall quality of life of someone who is empowered to have a positive perspective.

Open to all students, the Eagle Leader Series is usually hosted on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of each month (except for April) at the DLC, room 102. On Tuesdays, the course is held from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Wednesdays from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. For students who cannot make the Tuesday section, the following Wednesday section covers the same material. Students will also be awarded and recognized for completing the program, thus strengthening and reinforcing their college profile.

An additional upcoming event will be the Tri-College Leadership Conference. It will be a collaborative effort between the three local colleges around Prescott and is open to students from Prescott College, Yavapai College, and ERAU. It will be hosted on Saturday, March 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Prescott College. The featured keynote speaker will be Mark Hartley. He is a renowned author while currently the director of Student Leadership and Development at Cal State San Bernardino in California and a professional speaker with Coleman Productions, Inc. There is no cost to attend and there will be transportation available from ERAU and Prescott College. This is an excellent opportunity for students to not only learn new practical and empowering skills, but to meet new people as well!

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