October 23, 2015

Harris School launches new public service leadership program for women

The Harris School of Public Policy will launch a new public service and leadership program for women next month.

According to its website, the Women in Public Leadership Executive Education Program (WIPL) is a rigorous program designed to feature “prominent female leaders and distinguished scholars who will offer tested strategies and firsthand advice on how to break through the glass ceiling.”

Rebecca Sive, the program’s academic director and a lecturer at the Harris School, began as an adjunct lecturer in the Harris School in 2012. She decided to establish the program because of her students’ enthusiasm in her courses about women in politics.

“One of the reasons I started the program was the interest of the young women who want to be involved,” Sive said. “We want to be able to train these women and to show the importance of women in public service.”

The program will begin its first week-long seminar on November 16. Ertharin Cousin, the United Nations World Food Programme’s executive director, will present at the program’s kickoff event. Other featured program speakers will have backgrounds in various areas of public service, including academia, business, philanthropy, and politics.

Sive emphasized the timeliness of the program’s initiation. “This is a unique historical moment,” Sive said. “We have the leverage of the general public’s willingness to see women serving at higher levels of government and of activism. We’re ready for a woman president. The program is going to push that idea.”

Sive also expressed hope that the program will make a long-term impact in addressing the gender disparity in public service.

“There’s a dearth of women in [this field],” Sive said. “The rate of progress is slow, and we want to speed that up. We have a long way to go to achieve parity—the program will make the case, show women should have this opportunity, and prove that the more diversity we have the better.”

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