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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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Women Leaders Panel discuss unity and female empowerment

From left, Vice President of School of Extended Learning Carola Smith, photo courtesy of City College’s website, Interim Superintendent- President Kindred Murillo, photo courtesy of City College’s website, and Dream Center Program Advisor Leslie Marin-Jaurez, photo by Callahan Morgan. These three women spoke at the Women Leaders Panel hosted by the Women for Success Club on Thursday, March 23.

As gusty winds continued to quell Santa Barbara’s usually sunny weather, a few of City College’s female leaders gathered together on Thursday, March 23 to discuss how they, and the women that will follow them, can bring more unity to the world. 

Women’s History Month has fostered plenty of empowerment but has also stirred up a lot of controversies. Although most women in modern society no longer conform to the ideologies of a traditional 1950s housewife, the lack of representation among women in power has been widely brought to attention. 

When asked about her feelings regarding case studies of amending the workplace, particularly in higher education, Carola Smith, vice president of City College’s School of Extended Learning, responded with a recent statistic.

“I was shocked to learn that in the UC system and Cal State system, the number of presidents who are women is incredibly low, [as little as] 5 percent and 19 percent,” said Smith, gaining wide eyes from her fellow trustees. “We tend to believe that we have achieved so much, yet there is still a lot of room to grow.”

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According to Smith, women are now outnumbering men in terms of pursuing their degrees and securing a role in higher education, but for the tenure and part-time positions that are held, equitable representation has not yet reached its highest level. 

“Seeking out mentors, especially at the start of your career [is helpful],” Smith said. “As an experienced administrator, it’s important that I give that back because that provides [future leaders] with a support system to do [their] best work.”

Leslie Marin-Jaurez, City College’s Dream Center program advisor, also touched on the importance of mentorship by noting her mother as her daily inspiration to find her true purpose in life, which has encouraged her to help other women find their own. 

“[My mother]…took a leap of faith and left her own family to start providing for the family that she was growing,” Marin-Jaurez said. “She taught me to work hard, take chances, and to not only open the doors for yourself but for the women who will come after.”

Interim Superintendent-President Kindred Murillo reinforced how the beauty of trailblazing was not for the faint of heart when she stated that being an empowered woman is not only the ability to inspire but the ability to learn from others. 

“The best thing you can be in your life is a learner,” Murillo said. “If you are a learner, you can be vulnerable and humble because you do not know it all…then that builds consensus… and knowledge together.”

As Murillo explained, a lot of women, if not everybody, have the tendency to view vulnerability as a sign of weakness, and as a gateway to judgment and rejection. However, she affirmed that there is strength to be found in the humility of it all, as it brings people together, and allows them to embrace their truest potential.

“Lead from inside your heart,” Murillo said. “As long as we are helping and promoting each other, we will see parity someday.”

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