Women Leading SHU

How prevalent is female leadership at Sacred Heart University?

“Female leadership growing at SHU allows our students a day-to-day reminder to aspire to achieve at the highest level in their future careers,” said Judy Ann Riccio, Director of Athletics.

“Sacred Heart currently has three female deans, an Acting Provost, Vice President of Information Technology and a female Athletic Director, which shows females that they can be whatever they want to be.”

In addition to a number of women in leadership roles, there are some other steps being taken at Sacred Heart regarding diversity and inclusivity.

“The university has also worked to become a more welcoming place to lesbians, bisexual, transgender, and women of color,” said Dr. Kelly Marino, Director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Minor.

Dr. Robin Cautin, Acting Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, has been working on planning Sacred Heart’s Inaugural Women’s Leadership Conference that will be called “Leading Together: A Roadmap for Women Leaders and their Allies.” This will not only be open to women, but also anyone who is interested in a discussion on gender equality.

Many female students at Sacred Heart have also gained a high position in their own respective clubs and organizations.

“Having so many clubs and organizations that promote leadership is definitely an important factor in having so many women in leadership roles on campus,” said senior Gabriela Dos Santos, Student Government President. “I have never experienced a person looking down on me because I am a female or something like that. People are very respectful on our campus to any gender who occupies any office, regardless of if they’re under or upperclassmen, man or woman, experienced in the position or not.”

However, some students have found that there is still work to do regarding the equal treatment of women.

“You have to work five times harder for people to take you seriously as a female leader,” said senior Natalie Schlillaci, President of Kappa Delta Sorority. “There should be more female leaders on campus to empower women. A lot of women are leaders, but we need those women to be given the opportunity to get leadership.”

While some of these issues may be tied to Sacred Heart, a lack of female leadership is a global phenomenon.

“It isn’t a SHU-centric issue, but more of a larger systematic, sociological and cultural issue in the U.S. It’s one that women activists have been fighting to challenge for a decade,” said Marino.

Women in other countries outside of the U.S., such as Afghanistan, are sometimes not allowed to hold positions of power at all.

According to the Associated Press on Sept. 19, “Female employees have been ordered to stay at home. Hamdullah Namony, Interim Mayor of Kabul, said exceptions were made for women who could not be replaced by men. His comments were unusually specific and affected a large female work force that had been involved in running a sprawling city of more than five million people.”

However, in other areas of the world, there has been some improvement.

According to the Associated Press, “Despite 13 women making up less than 10% of speakers over the first four days at the UN General Assembly, the 13 represent an increase from last year, when just nine women spoke over the course of the session. There are also three more female heads of state or heads of government – 24 – than there were at this point in 2020.”

Regardless, some students think that women can gain positions of power as long as they have confidence in themselves.

“Don’t take no for an answer and never tell someone that you can’t do something,” said Schillaci. “You are a lot stronger and capable than you think.”

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