Women lack confidence. We hear that statement over and over without really understanding its full complexity. Lack of confidence can refer to an unheard opinion in a class discussion, a silenced debate in wage negotiations or the absence of self-respect. Not only is identifying the origin of the problem hard, but solving it can prove an even bigger challenge.
Struggling to learn how to best develop my own internal confidence, I read many books about raising your hand, not being afraid to speak up, taking a leap without having the full qualifications–all strategies frequently defined as “confidence builders.” But these “confidence builders” were much easier said than done. Nothing made me more confident than seeing the confidence bubble into the souls of my fellow peers in the IOP’s Women’s Initiative in Leadership (WIL) group after they created and completed initiatives to help improve gender equity on campus.
Together, we WIL members developed ideas, reframed hurdles and worked on socially motivated projects that inspired an internal “I can do it” attitude. As a result of these initiatives, over the past year, WIL as a group has introduced gender-related discussions around the IOP, developed localized WIL programs for specific communities, and helped re-launch the Harvard College Women’s Center Women’s Cabinet, a board of gender-focused groups around campus to strengthen female voices on campus. We hope to continue serving as leaders for gender equity on campus and in our communities and by leading initiatives such as these, we both inspire internal confidence and affect change around us. My fellow WIL classmates give me confidence that we will continue making bold and impassioned strides. To be a person in leadership, you must be an agent of change, and we, as the next generation of women, will be exactly that.
The Women’s Initiative in Leadership, also known as WIL, is designed to emphasize the importance of leadership for students at Harvard and to encourage the skills necessary for their success. The program features accomplished women from a diverse range of disciplines that engage with students each week in the form of a speaker series. WIL welcomes applicants of all genders and gender identities.
Learn more about getting involved with WIL and other IOP programs at the IOP Spring 2016 Open House, Wednesday, February 3 at 6:30 PM. RSVP here.