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  Making Peace and Motivating Action

Several hundred Kellogg first-years recently took part in Community Impact Day, including these students.
As a society, we need to find ways to provide opportunities for women to flourish, grow and contribute meaningfully to our global society.


Making Peace and Motivating Action
October 17, 2011

The Norwegian Nobel Committee recently sent a powerful message to the world when it awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to three women. The written statement was quite clear: “We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.” I am in awe of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman, who have taken on so much in environments far less supportive of women than I have experienced in my life.

I feel lucky to have been born a woman in the United States in this day and age, and I feel lucky to have been able to build a career in academics. Because as the first female dean of a top business school, I am acutely aware that I am a glass-ceiling breaker who almost wasn’t.

Early in my career, as a professor and working mother trying to get tenure, all three of my children encountered some difficult circumstances that required extra attention. And this was in the years before academic institutions were granting parental leave, so it was tough. But I was lucky that I always found supporters who helped me figure out ways to get through the tough times. Plus being a professor offered a somewhat flexible work environment—I could work nights and weekends, as long as I put my time in and got things done.

Earlier this month I attended the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit and met other glass-ceiling breakers—including a number of the women on the Fortune 50 Most Powerful Women in Business list. I was especially impressed by Marillyn Hewson at Lockheed Martin and Linda Hudson at BAE Systems—two women who hold leadership positions in traditional industrial companies. I was delighted to meet Efrat Peled of Arison Investments, a Kellogg alumna and the only Israeli to make the global list.

So I applaud the Nobel Committee—not just for their recipient selection, but for the message that their actions sent. At all levels of society, we need to find ways to provide opportunities for women to flourish, grow and contribute meaningfully to our global society. Until we do, we will not have truly fulfilled our human potential.


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