The women’s rights movement began in its early stages 171 years ago with the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. A new Registered Student Organization at the University of Indianapolis called “Women in Leadership” began with the same goal of empowering women.
The RSO was started by senior marketing major Taylor Lahrman after she noticed similar organizations at other universities.
“There just wasn’t anything like it on campus. And I looked at other campuses around like Butler [University] and IUPUI and they all have women empowerment organizations and I saw that it was a really big thing on social media and in the news,” Lahrman said. “Being a woman in business specifically, I know that we go through different challenges so I wanted to start it [here].”
The goal of the organization is to give women and others across campus an environment that they are able to succeed in, according to Lahrman. She said that even though the organization is called “Women in Leadership,” it isn’t only for women. They want to bring in the male perspective into the organization as well, she said. One goal of the organization, she said, is to eliminate the bias and stereotypes that come with women in power.
“We want to empower women and make them realize that, yes, things aren’t the way that they should be in the world, but we can take a stance and we can create something really big and powerful on campus if we do it the right way,” Lahrman said.
Lahrman said that she had been inspired by many different women, especially their advisor, Assistant Director of Student Activities Nicole Schuch. Larhman said that Schuch has been someone that she can go to for problems whether, professional or emotional. She said that she also connected with women during an internship which inspired her in different ways, specifically through women empowerment workshops.
Schuch said that too often in society, women do not work together to empower each other. She said more often they compete with each other and try to tear each other down. She said that the goal is to stop that and bring a sense of community between women. Schuch said they hope to achieve this, not only through student involvement but also involvement through faculty and staff.
“Recognizing that this is an advocacy group here on campus, it’s a definite need,” Schuch said. “We need to be having these conversations about gender and sexuality…. I think allowing employees and students to have these open dialogues about why it’s important to have a diverse group of people, diverse employment, I think would be good.”
The strategy of the organization is to let those in the club speak their mind and if they want to have an event, to help them have it, Lahrman said. She said this year is the year they establish the beginning of the club and allow for it to grow.
“I want them to be able to have events on campus, reach more people, broaden their network but also empower themselves too,” Lahrman said. “Some of them are freshmen. So I want the freshmen to take this club right now as it’s brand new, but then grow it as the years go on, so hopefully it becomes this giant thing on campus where everybody’s like, ‘I want to join that club.’”
The club, despite its short life span, has high hopes for its future, according to Larhman. She said that no matter what gender, religion or race, “Women in Leadership” wants to empower people on campus.