Earlier this month, Marymount University President Irma Becerra served as the keynote speaker for the fifth-annual Women’s Empowerment Luncheon held at the Westwood Country Club. Presented by M&T Bank, the annual event benefits Women Giving Back, a nonprofit that supports women and children in crisis by providing quality clothing as well as a safe and supportive community.
The luncheon also celebrates the exceptional impact that Women Giving Back, with the help of its thousands of supporters, has on women and children in the greater Washington, D.C., area. Each year, it’s held around the time of International Women’s Day to both recognize the power of women as well as raise funds to support the organization’s mission. The total donation contribution from this year’s event was $156,000.
During her keynote address, President Becerra shared with members of the audience the many hardships that women constantly go through, both professionally and personally.
“As women, we all know that we encounter unique barriers and challenges to fulfilling our full potential as female leaders,” she explained. “Our career journeys are complex as we face societal expectations of raising a family, varying forms of workplace discrimination or harassment, and sometimes, imposter syndrome, which can create feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.”
President Becerra also reflected on her own past experiences in higher education as a woman, and how isolated she felt among her peers when she was in college as well as the obstacles she has faced during her career in higher education administration.
“When I was studying engineering, I was taking classes in which I was often the only female in the room,” she said. “And later, the biggest challenge during the process of becoming a university president was overcoming the fact that there are so few Latina university presidents in the U.S. today. I believe that the more female leaders there are, the easier it will be for future generations of women. It’s always important to look back and extend a hand to those coming after you.”
Towards the end of her remarks, President Becerra touched on the importance of courageous leadership, especially during this time of great change in the higher education industry.
“Courageous leaders know that their job is about doing important work on behalf of others, and because there are always going to be differences of opinion and limited resources, they’re willing to engage in difficult conversations,” she said. “They change outdated systems, push the boundaries of what’s possible and ultimately change their organizations for the better.”
Click here to learn more about the success of the fifth-annual Women’s Empowerment Luncheon.