Women Leaders Share Advice with Future MSFS Women Leaders
By Monica Gonzalez (MSFS 2011)
On Wednesday evening, April 14, 2010, a group of 18 MSFS women students gathered at the Mortara Center to spend two hours with three distinguished women leaders- Dr. Paula Newberg, Director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy with an extensive career in academia and international organizations, Lieutenant Colonel Tracy Szczepaniak, a career Air Force officer previously stationed in Pakistan where she flew C-12 planes (Super Kingair passenger aircraft) and currently works at the Pentagon as a Military Assistant to the Foreign Policy Advisor for the Chief of Staff, and Ambassador Cynthia Efird an Associate with the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and career Senior Foreign Officer with the State Department aside from previously serving as Ambassador to the Republic of Angola and other high level diplomatic posts.
Center Dr. Paula Newberg, Ambassador Cynthia Efird, Lt. Colonel Tracy Szczepaniak with MSFS students
The topic discussed was “Women in Crises and Combat” as part of the newly initiated Women Leadership Initiative. Under the guidance of Dean Carol Lancaster and the leadership of MSFS ’10 Julia Midland, the Women Leadership Initiative sponsors discussion panels and related events with the aim to promote MSFS women leadership and mentorship to MSFS students.
As the women shared a meal, the speakers discussed such issues as facing stereotypes and projecting stereotypes; how their gender worked to their advantage or disadvantage in conflict zones, as well as dealing with sexual harassment and other balance of power issues at work. Lt. Col Szczepaniak reminded MSFS students to “Make sure you are known for your work and not make it about your gender.” Ambassador Efird reminisced that when she started her career at the State Department in 1977 the policy in place required women to resign if they decided to marry, implying that their career paths were limited if they wanted a family. MSFS students were so enthralled by the discussion they ended up staying a little past the two hours asking questions and sharing advice.