Women’s Leadership Institute kicks off with conference

Nov. 4 has also been declared Matilda R. Wilson day, in honor of Oakland University's founder.

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Women’s Leadership Institute kicks off with conference

Beth Talbert has taught courses in leadership, women in leadership, persuasion, gender communication, group dynamics, professional communication, public speaking and interpersonal conflict at Oakland University.

Beth Talbert has taught courses in leadership, women in leadership, persuasion, gender communication, group dynamics, professional communication, public speaking and interpersonal conflict at Oakland University.

Courtesy of Oakland University

Beth Talbert has taught courses in leadership, women in leadership, persuasion, gender communication, group dynamics, professional communication, public speaking and interpersonal conflict at Oakland University.

Courtesy of Oakland University

Courtesy of Oakland University

Beth Talbert has taught courses in leadership, women in leadership, persuasion, gender communication, group dynamics, professional communication, public speaking and interpersonal conflict at Oakland University.

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Oakland University Women’s Leadership Institute (OUWLI) aims to improve conditions for women in the workplace. The program is designed to create meaningful opportunities for discussion, collaboration and problem-solving for professional women.

OUWLI will hold its first conference Friday, Nov. 4, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the Gold Rooms of the Oakland Center. The conference is targeted at women in leadership and will include a series of “Matilda Talks,” named for Matilda Dodge Wilson, a founder of OU and the namesake of Wilson Hall.

“A Matilda Talk is similar to what we refer to as a faculty lightning talk,” Beth Talbert, director of the program, said. “That’s when faculty share their research in five minutes or less. In each of the Matilda Talk rooms, there will be an expert researcher from Oakland as well as someone that we think is an expert in the private sector. So, people will be able to hear two Matilda Talks: one from a faculty member about research and one from a community member about best practices.”

Talbert was designated as the program director in light of her extensive career.

She joined the OU faculty in 1999 and has since taught courses in leadership, women in leadership, persuasion, gender communication, group dynamics, professional communication, public speaking and interpersonal conflict. She is also senior adviser to communication majors.

Talbert acknowledged just how daunting being a woman in the workplace can be, citing the wage gap and leadership gap as two obstacles that are specific to women in leadership. She has seen these issues firsthand.

“Truthfully, a big challenge for women is learning how to walk that tight rope of how assertive and how to be assertive so you’re responded to positively,” she said.

 

The conference’s official title is “Asking for More: Positive Strategies for Change.” In addition to the Matilda Talks, it will feature panels, presentations and a keynote speech by author, editor and critic Sara Laschever. A full event schedule can be found at oakland.edu/diversity/ouwli.

The conference’s OU registration is sold out, but community members are still able to register online.

Although the OUWLI is just taking off, Talbert envisions long-term sustainability for the program.

 

“Ultimately, there would be an OUWLI office,” she said. “We would offer a curriculum for executives in the region as well as students on campus interested in the advancement of women in leadership. I’m a big fan of the case-study approach and I hope by then we would have something like that in place. It’s an ambitious goal, but if you don’t know where you’re going you can’t get there.”