Propose an OWHE Conference Session: Topic Ideas

At the end of the 2020 OWHE Conference, attendees suggested topics they would like to learn more about. Some topics offer a deeper dive into OWHE’s values, and others are new topic areas. All the suggested topics were organized into themes. The list below describes OWHE’s values and the themes that emerged from member recommendations, along with potential action steps and presentation ideas for future OWHE conferences, webinars, and blogs.

OWHE Values and Presentation Ideas

1. Leadership

Facilitate meaningful connection, personal growth, professional advancement, and systemic change for all Oregon women, non-binary, and trans people in higher education.

OWHE members expressed interest in learning more about how to become a more perceptive leader. This unfolds in two parts. First, an individual must engage in personal growth and development. Leadership starts with knowing our own values and belief structures. Once you have completed introspective activities and learned more yourself, it may be easier to lead and work with others who may have different value systems or personality types.

  • Personal growth and development
    • How to set a vision
    • How to harness an attitude of strength
    • Personality assessments
    • Setting boundaries with both work and personal life
  • Leading and working with others includes
    • Supervising a team
    • Giving constructive feedback
    • Being a good supervisor
    • Having difficult conversations
    • How to supervise a variety of personality types

2. Education

We create a culture of learning and development, by providing an accessible platform for growth and professional engagement for all women, non-binary, and trans people in higher education.

Education was used broadly by members regarding how to use education and professional development opportunities to advocate for yourself. How to use a new degree to help move up in an organization? How to negotiate a raise? How to know when it is time to leave? Many members want to engage in conversations and learn skills in self-advocacy in times of career or life transitions. Suggestions for presentations include:

  • Transitioning from student to professional
    • From grad student to professional
    • Building a resume/ CV
  • Career advancement/ career transition
    • Breaking the glass ceiling
    • Transitioning into higher education (from an outside higher education career)
    • How to stay on top of career trends
    • What you need from a manager to help you move up
    • Creating professional development opportunities for yourself
    • How to shift your attention towards getting where you want to go
  • Salary negotiation
    • Asking for a raise

3. Equity and Inclusivity

Equity: We believe that all members of society should have unbiased access to opportunities that help them reach their full potential. We work from an equity perspective in all that we do. By utilizing an intersectional framework, we strive to create empowering spaces and opportunities in which all Oregon women, non-binary, and trans people in higher education can equally access, fully participate, and travel on a path from hope to reality.

Inclusivity: We acknowledge and honor the dignity of every human being, value women of all gender identities, ethnicities, and abilities, and welcome all members as they are, both professionally and personally. We strive to create space for each member to participate as their whole, genuine self.

While equity and inclusivity influence all OWHE does, focused attention on gender and sexuality, race, and personal narratives are of keen interest to OWHE members. Equity tends to focus on eliminating barriers that disproportionately impact non-dominate groups while also focusing on increasing access to educational opportunities for professionals and students. As equity focuses on opportunity, inclusivity focuses on belonging. Professionals and students should feel they belong to their college and university and are a contributing member to creating a dynamic and welcoming campus climate. Each topic welcomes a presentation focused on working with equity and inclusivity with a faculty/staff lens or student-centered lens. There is a specific subsection that discusses how to improve student inclusivity below.

  • Gender and Sexuality
    • Being a woman in a male-dominated field
    • How to be trans-inclusive
    • Accessibility and affordability for non-dominate genders and sexes
    • Retention strategies
    • Addressing sexism in the workplace
    • Creating LGBTQ+ places on campus
  • Race
    • Institutional and systemic barriers to success and advancement
    • Accessibility and affordability for non-dominate races
    • Retention strategies
    • Addressing racism in the workplace
    • Challenging university policies to be more equitable to Native American students and Alaskan and Pacific Islander students
  • Narratives of Inclusion
    • Stories of successes and challenges of implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)
    • How to work with others who do not use a DEI perspective
  • Being student-centered
    • Working with students to cultivate community
    • Campus events for students to learn about resources
    • Student retention data and strategies

A few members would appreciate more presentations specific to community college professionals and students.

OWHE values and the suggested topics should not be seen a silo. Instead, a more robust presentation will cover many of OWHE's values within one presentation. Values reinforce other values. A presentation with a focus on leadership, for example, may also connect with equity and inclusivity. OWHE members who wanted a link between leadership and being aware of differences of those you lead asked to “connect leadership also with DEI” and “being in tune with individuals around you." The presentation may focus on Leadership and Racial Equity or Equity-Minded Leadership Skills. The audience is anyone with a leadership or advisory position, and after attending the presentation, the attendee would have learned skills about how their biases impact their leadership style or how to use culturally mindful communication across their team.

Another example of combining values to strengthen a presentation is combining inclusivity and leadership when discussing student-centered approaches to higher education. Professionals need to engage with the students they serve to learn what students need to thrive at the college or university. Leadership offers up an opportunity for college and university employees to use their position to advocate for students and generate change. Inclusivity from a leader is perceived by a student as someone is hearing me, maybe I do belong here. OWHE members who suggested a link between inclusivity and leadership pertaining to students want to learn what they can do to support students' “mental health” and “support and motivate students." "They want to learn how to better support "justice-involved students". The presentation may focus on Facilitating meaningful campus conversations with non-dominate students or Leading from where I stand: Using my role to support our students. The audience is anyone at a college or university who works with students and wants to learn strategies, tips, and action steps to better advocate for students' needs. There is also an element of listening to what the students need and connecting them with school resources.

My goal is to inspire you to take a theme or specific topic and turn it into a 2021 conference proposal. If a conference proposal does not fit within your schedule, may this list inspire you to propose a webinar or blog post!

Written by OWHE Education Committee member Sara Spiers (she/her).

Connect with Leaders

Networking with women, non-binary, and trans leaders in the state of Oregon will enhance your professional experience. We look forward to creating opportunities to meet, connect and develop together.

Engage in Professional Development

Participate in opportunities for professional growth through educational programs that are provided by our campus contact network right on your campus, in your region or at a state wide gathering. The focus is on providing you with the leadership skills and mentoring necessary to lead.

Lead Change in Higher Education

Higher education in the state of Oregon provides a dynamic environment where women, non-binary, and trans people can impact change. Whether in the community college, 4-year institution, public, or private, we want you to be a part of shaping the future of higher education by empowering and affirming your leadership abilities.