Online Leadership Curriculum Empowers Women To Have “Voice & Influence”

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By Lori Nishiura Mackenzie
Associate Director – The Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Stanford University

I am a “first” for Women You Should Know. I am the first woman recommended to WYSK by her husband.

As a feminist and activist for gender equality, I am proud of that title. Equality is, after all, not only a goal for women. It is a people goal, one I want as much for my daughter as for my son.

My husband recommended me because he’s my biggest fan and my dearest partner. As I worked toward an innovative online curriculum which launched earlier this month for the Stanford University Clayman Institute’s Voice & Influence program and the new Lean In.org, he saw my passion and thought I should share it with others. In this way, we are both taking action toward equality.

The Voice & Influence curriculum puts a stake in the sand to move toward greater equality. The playing field of online education continues to be tilted in favor of men. Major universities like Stanford, Princeton and the University of California are putting resources behind creating online education for everyone. Yet in a recent article in the Los Angeles Times analyzing the face of online education, Lisa L. Martin and Barbara F. Walter found that of the 205 courses offered in January by one consortium, Coursera, only 34 were taught by female instructors.

Other media continue to favor men. According to the Byline Report by The OpEd Project, 80% of all op-ed essays in traditional media are penned by men. A woman writing about an area of expertise, especially outside the “pink ghetto,” can be considered an act for equality. Likewise, featuring a woman in the media can be considered an act for equality. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media reports that only 26.5% of all family films have a female narrator.

Power & Influence VideoWhen we started creating our curriculum, I wanted to promote a new kind of online education. While current online successes focus primarily on technical skills, we broached a new topic: leadership training, with a smart gender lens. The videos provide knowledge on core topics: negotiation, power, stories, teams and workplaces while explaining how these dynamics may affect women differently than men.

We also featured leading academics from top universities.

And we launched with only women faculty.

Not only does Voice & Influence feature female faculty, but the online curriculum also features interviews with women you should know – volunteers who braved the camera to share their experiences in an attempt to bridge the research-based curriculum into real life. From an MBA student to a Chief Operating Officer who grew up in inner city Michigan, the interviewees are real women (and one man) who share a common passion for equality. All these are women you should know. And I hope you do through our videos.

I hope our education will not only provide equal access to leadership education, but also offer new role models. I hope we will inspire more women to lean into their ambitions, to embrace leadership, and to inspire more men to support women in doing so, as my husband did for me.

In her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg encourages women to make your partner a real partner. My husband truly is. He increased support while I was creating the videos. He played his part in the revolution. He juggled work, after-school pick up and wife support so we could, together, be effective in our work lives and family life.

I admit this kind of partnership is not easy. With two careers, family and after-school activities, there is a lot to juggle. Yet searching for new ways to do so is important to us. We are showing the way to our children.

Someday, I will not be the only woman whose husband recommends her as a woman you should know. And I will not be the only woman to acknowledge her husband for picking up more than 50 percent of the home responsibilities during her peak work periods.

In the meantime, enjoy the newly launched Voice & Influence program. Have it amplify your voice in the areas that matter most to you. And I hope you will be the next woman we should know.


Lori Nishiura Mackenzie
Associate Director, The Clayman Institute for Gender Research – Stanford University
Founder, Online Voice & Influence Program
Executive Editor, upRising and Gender News

Lori Nishiura MackenzieAs Associate Director, Lori Nishiura Mackenzie is responsible for the operations of the Institute, including finance, staff and planning. She is also responsible for community relations, publicity and marketing, and program development. She is executive editor of Gender News and the annual research magazine, upRising. Mackenzie is the founder of the online Voice & Influence program aimed at providing people with the skills, information and inspiration to be as effective as possible.

Mackenzie joined the Institute after working in marketing and business management for 20 years. She built traditional brands at Procter & Gamble and managed online marketing campaigns for eCommerce companies such as eBay, PayPal and CafePress. At CafePress, Lori was responsible for building a partnership with Rock the Vote, which included a user-generated contest for the 2008 election.

Mackenzie has an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently on the Gender Equity Principles working group at the City of San Francisco Department on the Status of Women.


WYSK Postscript

Our sincere congratulations to Lori on the launch of Voice & Influence, an innovative tool and inspired program for all women.

Our deepest gratitude to Lori for contributing such an insightful and honest article to Women You Should Know, offering further encouragement that we all can and need to lean in to our ambitions.

Last but not least, our special thanks to WYSK reader Andrew Mackenzie for telling us we should know his wife Lori. He made a compelling case and it was a truly invaluable connection.

  • Dorn

    This is a great piece, stated with authority, research data, and conviction, with much to model. That a husband picks up a bigger portion of the family load to help his wife succeed in a passionate professional venture is also impressive. The piece comes from academia: I personally would like to see WYSK do more women coverage from education, medicine, and the helping professions, expanding on the role it more often presents of successful women in business.

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