Remember those “We can do it” pictures from the 1940’s that showed a woman flexing her muscle, or those commercials with Mia Hamm facing off against Michael Jordan to the theme, “Anything you can do, I can do better?” Neither Madeleine Adler nor Linda Lamwers had posters hanging in their office, or that commercial running on a continuous loop, but both are among a growing number of women breaking boundaries and changing the world.
This spring, we saw Sen. Hillary Clinton fall just short of a historic presidential nomination.
Sarah Palin has broken into the mainstream and could be the vice-president of our nation if some polls come to fruition. The Alaska governor would capture the highest office ever held by a woman in U.S. history.
Women are not uncommon in the workplace. They’ve been here for decades, but now they are breaking into the “higher” workplace, previously dominated by men.
Between 1970-2000, postsecondary schools admitted twice as many women as in previous decades, and there was an 853 percent increase in professional school attendance, according to Education Portal.
Before 1992, West Chester’s presidents had all been men. They were good men, but changing the leadership strategy led to a far different campus, certainly for the better. Adler gave WCU’s campus a makeover. The School of Music and Performing Arts Center was constructed and will be at the forefront of the prestigious West Chester music program for years to come.
Ironically, Adler changed WCU’s leadership, transforming public education in the process. She brought about “distributed leadership.” Among some of the first to use the idea, the former president filtered her power and control to other members. Irony stems from a woman giving up the power that was bestowed upon her- but it works.
Distributed leadership is not a bad thing; it allows specialists and offices to manage financials, housing, public relations etc. in a better way than an oligarchy at the top.
So, after Adler went on sabbatical in 2002, who was appointed interim president? Another woman: Linda Lamwers, our interim president.
Now, with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education looking for a long-term president, Lamwers is, once again, assuming the high seat.
Female leaders in secondary schools are not uncommon. The University of Pennsylvania, a recurring top 10 school, is lead by a female. Harvard University and Brown, two other Ivy League schools are just two of other prestigious Universities led by women.
Ground breaking presidential and vice-presidential nominees are not the only women battling for equality and change, nor should they be.