Making Strides in Gender Equity Through Experiential Learning
By Kathy Hoe (2Y 2021)
Personally driven to effect change
In The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, Melinda Gates says, “If you want to lift up humanity, empower women. It is the most comprehensive, pervasive, high-leverage investment you can make in human beings.”
Prior to coming to Kellogg, I worked on a breadth of projects as a management consultant, both in the United States and abroad. As I moved from region to region, I became acutely aware of how I was often the only woman in the room. In regions where women were less prevalent in the workforce, my effectiveness waned and I found I often needed to leverage my male colleagues to get anything done.
Driven in large part by my personal experiences, I came to Kellogg with a passion for women empowerment. I wanted to focus my Kellogg experience on advancing opportunities for women around the globe, as I believe that unlocking rights and opportunities for women and girls is a surefire way to uplift society as a whole.
Developing solutions for gender equity
I took advantage of Kellogg’s experiential learning program, which includes an opportunity to conduct a field study with an organization of your choosing for course credit. Through this program, I spent a quarter working with the Women Innovators and Leaders Network (WILD Network), a social enterprise with the mission of enabling women social innovators in the international development sector to scale their impact and thrive personally. The WILD Network addresses a critical limitation of many international development organizations; although gender equity is a key component of international development programming, these organizations often face gender equity challenges within their own headquarters. In order to effectively design and implement programs, these international development organizations need to reflect the value of gender equity in their own houses.
Through the field study, I had the opportunity to lead many of the organization’s strategic initiatives, but the project I enjoyed the most was creating an internal Gender Equity Framework to guide the WILD Network’s approach to curating content and launching programs. Through this project, I combined theoretical gender equity research with insights from interviews with gender experts in the development space to develop a customized Gender Equity Framework that matched the WILD Network’s specific mission and focus area. My completion of the framework coincided nicely with the WILD Network’s virtual conference, an annual event that is traditionally held in person but was adapted due to the COVID-19 crisis. I was invited to speak at the conference to introduce the framework and share how it will be used at the WILD Network for years to come.
This experience was, without a doubt, the most inspiring experience I’ve had at Kellogg. I was able to learn firsthand from the Founder and CEO of the WILD Network, Fiona Macaulay, an incredible female social entrepreneur who taught me the importance of being bold and how to quickly innovate in the face of unexpected challenges. It has been very rewarding to see how the WILD Network has already started using the framework, integrating it into all tenants of the organization’s programming. Additionally, through my interviews with gender experts, I grew my professional network of people who share my passion in women empowerment exponentially, and am starting to encounter familiar faces at my summer internship with Plan International USA, an international development nonprofit that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.
I’m so grateful that Kellogg gave me the opportunity to customize my own path and gain the experiential learning opportunity in my specific passion area. I’d encourage every student to think about how they can uniquely leverage Kellogg’s resources and flexibility to design the learning opportunity of their dreams!