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Womens Leadership Luncheon

March 25, 2014

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the McMurry University Women’s Leadership Luncheon. I was not sure what to expect because I have never attended something like this because as a man, receiving an invitation is rare. It was an enlightening opportunity for me. When I arrived I saw salads with some chicken on top as the appetizers. I asked someone what was for lunch and they looked at me oddly and I then realized the salad WAS lunch.

The two guest speakers were wonderful! The distinguished Dr. Sarah Ragle Weddington gave a wonderful presentation. It was in her anecdotal reflections where I gained an important insight. As she talked about playing “two-dribble” basketball and the reasons she was told that was the way it must be played for women, it gave me an amazing insight into what her life might have been like growing up. A strong minded young lady who was trying to grow in her gift of leadership being told she should only want to play two-dribble because her insides [child bearing] were her “meal ticket.” Since I have never experienced that, I cannot say I understand, I can say it shocks me at what that experience must have meant to a young lady in her formative years.

The second guest speaker was Ms. Pam Benson Owens. She is another accomplished woman with a list of achievements too long to quote here. She was an excellent speaker who gave some of the best leadership instruction in the 30 minutes she was given that I have had in some years. I was remiss to not have something to take notes with. I did my best to catch all of her main points and retain them for use. If you see her giving any of her leadership talks near you, sign up immediately – it is worth the cost.

The last speaker was not a guest speaker, but the newest president of McMurry University – Dr. Sandra S. Harper. In her talk she exposed some of the successes she had achieved by overcoming the hurdles that were put in front of her. As she recalled some of these tales it was evident they were each difficult for her at the time, but they built strength and resilience in her. Now she is at the top of her field as the first women to be the President of McMurry University.

I had a couple reflections of the event overall: First, the women in the audience were diverse. Some I recognized as prominent figures, others regular people who are leaders in their own place of life. The women spanned in age from their teens to well into their twilight years. They were there to recognize and support each other in their efforts to continue to step into leadership roles. They were from all walks of life.

Second, in a sold out audience there was about a dozen men – and that is a generous guess. While I do not know if this is a statement of a lack of invitations, or a lack of men choosing to attend, it showed me a lack of diverse support for women leaders of all ages. Men who are in leadership roles would be well served to attend events like this. Meet the up and coming leaders. See what they are about. Hear the wonderful speakers. Experience the event and learn.

Last, women leaders have a great deal to teach us. My first experiences with women in leadership roles were in the military and I cannot say it was positive. While I did see some good women leaders, the two I had served directly under were less than exceptional. I realized to some degree I may have let that jade me. To experience this luncheon was a wonderful experience that overwhelmed me with excitement for the future.

So, women, thank you for leading and continuing to push the envelope. Men, go to one of these types of events. If you are not, you are certainly missing something. In the end, may these types of experiences foster greater cooperation in the leadership of all companies and organizations.


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