Many women are struggling during the pandemic to balance the responsibilities of their jobs and families, which has made it difficult to focus on career advancement. However, now, more than ever, women must think about skill building, reskilling, and upskilling to navigate changing trends in the new economy. In this episode, APU Dean of Business, Dr. Marie Gould Harper, talks to Dr. Charlene Glenn, about her work in higher education, leadership development, and training. Learn why women must first honestly assess their current skills and then be willing to learn something new like improving their technical skills.
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Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Welcome to the podcast today, I’m your host, Marie Gould Harper. Today we are going to talk about different issues with women and how they can empower themselves. My guest is Dr. Charlene Glenn. I want to take a moment to provide some background information on her.
Dr. Charlene Glenn is a Fulbright Scholar recipient with 20-plus years in higher education as a professor, researcher, and administrator. She has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels in post-secondary education, facilitated customized training nationally and internationally.
Her expertise involves work on program assessment and evaluation, accreditation evaluation and reporting, grant writing to aid curriculum development needs, as well as student programming to support power skill development.
Dr. Glenn has presented on a national and international level on the following topics: online learning, outcomes assessment, student engagement and retention strategies, leadership development, global entrepreneurship, and agile methodology.
Dr. Glenn recently accepted an invitation to serve as an education subject matter expert for the international professional women’s organization, iSAW, international Smart Advancing Women, is committed to advancing gender equality globally and will launch in March. Charlene, welcome to our podcast and thank you for joining me.
Dr. Charlene Glenn: Thank you, Marie. I’m excited to share with you the work that I will be doing with iSAW and just also many of the issues that women face in the academy and what we can do to really overcome them and really reach our full potential in our profession.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Well, Charlene, congratulations on this new endeavor that you are going to take on, and it’s been a while since you and I had the opportunity to chat about what you are doing. Can you discuss with us, how did you first become involved in this initiative?
Start a Business degree at American Public University.
Dr. Charlene Glenn: It is really an interesting story in terms of how I got involved in this initiative. I was connecting with another colleague on LinkedIn—and prior to this I had not been active on LinkedIn—but I had responded to a post about higher education and posted some thoughts that I had about what are some ways that higher ed can improve.
And a colleague from Canada reached out to me and said, “I’d like to touch base with you and let’s have a conversation about your ideas.” And after we had a conversation he said, “You’re really passionate about women’s issues, and I’d like to connect you up with the CEO of iSAW because I think that you could play a major role in that.” And that’s how I was introduced to the organization, and it was through a connection on LinkedIn.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: That’s interesting that you say how you made the connection. I’m going to come back to the organization, but I just wanted to ask the question about your participation in LinkedIn. I believe the posting that you’re referencing I did read and it was well-written and it was very timely. I’m also noticing a lot of people commenting that they are getting opportunities from their participation with LinkedIn. Do you think that’s a positive way to network during the pandemic, just the online communications? What are your thoughts?
Dr. Charlene Glenn: It definitely has been a lifeline for me. I have been fortunate enough that the editors will reach out to me and ask me to respond to various prompts as it relates to higher ed. And my responses have really garnered a lot of posts and a lot of interaction. And I definitely had to say that, yes, it is a means of connecting with professionals now in light of the pandemic and I really think it’s helping to advance many individuals career right now. I think it’s been a major force in advancing career goals and being able to connect with others.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Great. I’m glad that you share that because we had a guest before you and we were talking about how do you change careers during the pandemic? How do you reach out to people and it’s effective? And your example is a good example of how you can still work it, and there are opportunities, sometimes there’s opportunities that we would never have thought about. I want to go back to your current work and how you got started and what are the next steps? Can you share?
Dr. Charlene Glenn: I have been asked to serve as a subject matter expert in education. And given the 20 years that I’ve spent in higher ed, I am looking to share knowledge about how to advance the needs of women. And I am very passionate about it, because in order to advance women it’s important that we build awareness, we share knowledge, and we build relationships.
And I think those three areas is how I’m going to be able to do that through iSAW. Because I think building awareness around issues that women face, it really starts with a conversation, Marie, it really starts with a conversation.
Conversations must begin with honest dialogue about the commonalities and differences that we all experience, and once we begin these dialogues we can exchange ideas and we all can learn and grow from the process, iSAW is able to help us to be able to do that.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: You talk about awareness, knowledge, and relationship. What do you expect the demographics to be? Are there any current participants? Let’s just talk about that for a while.
Dr. Charlene Glenn: Well, I anticipate that it will be women from all around the world because it’s an international organization. I can see that there are going to be students and women in all professions. The demographics are going to range from college students to seasoned professionals and it will really cast the net of a wide variety of women in the professions of banking, finance, energy, law. And I really think it’s going to be an expansive organization that’s going to touch the lives of many. We’re going to be initiating a brand awareness campaign on March 8th on International Women’s Day, and so more details are going to come on my LinkedIn account on March 8th.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Okay, great. I like this whole idea of bringing a diverse group of women together to help each other out. What do you expect in the beginning, the types of relationships you would build. And I want to start with, I’m thinking of that college student with a seasoned professional, a woman who has been either on the corporate side or in some type of business for a while. What type of advice could she give someone who is just starting out her career? Do you expect a lot of those types of relationships as well?
Dr. Charlene Glenn: Yes, yes I do. In my role of education what I will be doing is really sharing a lot of the, I guess, issues and challenges that women face in education and then be able to present to them what are some solutions? What are some tactics and strategies that they can employ to maneuver some of the issues that women face?
I was just reading in Inside Higher Ed, it’s my major go-to. And there’s two researchers who just wrote a book called “Building Gender Equity in the Academy: Institutional Strategies for Change.”
Dr. Charlene Glenn: And with these kinds of resources and the information that they’re publishing, this is the information to share with someone who’s just starting out in the education arena. What should they know about some of the areas that might be challenging? How to maneuver through them? And this is the kind of information that I plan to share and be able to highlight for them and I think eventually be able to mentor them.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Great. I think that’s an excellent idea. I’m looking back to the beginning of both of our careers. I think you and I came out corporate around the same time and entered into higher ed and it would have been helpful with that transition. Now, that’s what was going on when we were coming up. Today’s new professional will have to deal with the effects of the pandemic. Would you care to share some of the challenges that you personally see in education, especially higher education?
Dr. Charlene Glenn: I can think about my experience in higher ed, it kind of goes back to one, hiring. How we are hired into an institution. It also goes back to the culture of the organization. It also speaks to what are the priorities of the organization as it relates to work-life balance. I think those issues play a role for anybody who’s entering the academy, they have to take into account all of those issues now.
As you are pursuing tenure and working on your research projects, you now had to figure out how do you balance all of that while balancing your family life, while balancing your personal needs. And I think those are the issues that women really have to focus on now. It’s about how to get that balance and how to be able to fit in your organization and be able to do all the things that you’re expected to do.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Exactly. As you were speaking, I was remembering when both of us were working on our dissertation and we thought that was a challenge.
Dr. Charlene Glenn: Yes.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: But balance has taken on a new meaning. Have you heard any stories from some women who may be struggling with the balance a little bit more, especially since some of them may have kids at home and they’re responsible for the education of the kids as well. What are you hearing?
Dr. Charlene Glenn: Oh, I’m hearing that women are stressed to the max. They are taking on extra loads at home, they’re sacrificing some of their own time with the work that they have. They’re trying to stay connected to their work environments through Zoom. They have their children on Zoom while they are working on Zoom as well. I think most women are just really maxed out now.
I have to share this story, but this is a good one. I had a Zoom meeting with one of my students about maybe two or three weeks ago. And in the back I could see her two children sitting there well-behaved, doing their work while she was on a Zoom meeting. That is what’s going on in most environments, the children are there working, while a parent is there working on Zoom and working on schoolwork, and that’s what their whole picture looks like.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Wow, that’s interesting. But it’s an encouraging story because I’m also reading articles. There is a concern that women are going to lose some ground because many of them, as you mentioned, are stressed out, burnt out, and they’re electing to come out of the traditional workforce to do something different. What would your advice be to a woman who is struggling with that type of issue? Do I stay in or do I come out? How would you coach that individual?
Dr. Charlene Glenn: I would coach that individual to one, do an assessment of what their skills are. Before you can make any transition to another environment you really have to do an assessment of your skills. You have to look at your family obligations, whether it’s to your children, to your parents, to your husband, you really have to do two things. One, look at what your skills are, two, look at your family environment and then try to determine what career would be the best fit, based on your skills.
And, Marie, I can really share a personal example to this. As you mentioned before, we both came out of corporate, I worked in banking for about six or seven years prior to coming into education. And at that point, I was married, I wanted to have a family, and I said, “This career that I’m in right now is not going to be flexible enough for me to do while wanting a family and being committed to some personal needs.”
So I decided to leave banking and move into education and I was able to use my transferable skills, which was training and development, and be able to move that into higher ed. I’m definitely the prime example of someone who had to look to see what were her transferable skills, and then be able to figure out what profession can I move into where it’s going to fit me, fit my family, and really be the career that I could be passionate about.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: I think we traveled down the same path and you sharing your story actually opened up two more questions for me, the whole notion of transferring skills. I went through that same process. I’ve always believed it’s not about the career because when you talk about the career people get set on a job description and a title. I’ve never been really about that, I’ve been on the skills.
One of the things that they’re talking about today with the interim economy, which many say is going to be the next two to five years, companies are focusing on up-skilling and re-skilling. What do you think you’re going to say to some of these women that you will be coaching in terms of what’s the best approach that they should take in terms of reskilling and upskilling themselves to be ready for this new norm, this new economy?
Dr. Charlene Glenn: Well, Marie, when I think about that, again, I can just always put myself in this scenario. The number one thing that all women need to be aware of are their technical skills. That this term of having a digital mindset is what’s going to help any person, male or female, be able to navigate in this new economy.
I’m just thinking about my experience with now learning all the features in Zoom. Having the ability now to create YouTube videos. So if there is one skill that women and as well as men need to have is to have that digital mindset, have those technical skills to be able to maneuver in this whole 21st century environment. I think that’s what’s being demanded now.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: I’m right on point with you about the technical. I’ve talked to a couple of people and I’ve thought about if I were to make a change now what would it be? And I do like ed tech, and it’s because of how we have transitioned. We usually take a part of where we’ve been, and added to what’s new.
And I like that approach because it shows where you’ve been, what type of experience you’ve had, and how you can tie it into where you’re going to go. When you made some changes recently about different projects you’ve been working on, is that how you promoted yourself, especially if it was something that you hadn’t worked in for a while or you have never worked in?
Dr. Charlene Glenn: Yeah. And this question is leading me to my experience with my Fulbright. When I was committed to travel to Barbados and then the pandemic hit, I then needed to figure out how was I going deliver instruction? How was I going to deliver the knowledge that I had committed to do? And technology was my answer.
And so I was committed to go and facilitate sessions on agility. So, considering technology it was now the opportunity to facilitate these sessions via Zoom, and then also be able to create YouTube videos to be able to convey this content. So I can put myself in these scenario that you’re presenting because I have had to do that.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Great. And I like that you shared that story because our program director for a business program as well as the one for our management program, that’s what we worked on for the last year. We kept some of the basic topics in the curriculum, your standard business competencies, but we also wanted to add in that part: What’s really new? What is the changing factor?
And it was the topics such as being agile, the digital workplace, but to help bring people up with their skills. And even though they’re working on a degree, that we give them the opportunity to know what it’s like to be a part of what’s going on in the outside world in terms of preparation for careers.
We want to keep them current and within the trend, that’s definitely important. Because when you talk about technology things move so fast and it changes so fast. Your response also, I think, was a good segue into your experience as a Fulbright scholar. I want to say again, congratulations. When I saw that, I was so happy for you.
Dr. Charlene Glenn: Thank you.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: You have began to talk about how you received that opportunity and what it’s been like. Anything else you’d like to share about your work in that area?
Dr. Charlene Glenn: Oh, wow. I’ll say this, Barbados has definitely opened their arms to me. They have given me a lot of great opportunities to pursue, and I was again, committed to go there. Matter of fact, I was supposed to be there now, but what was able to transpire was, I was able to connect up with the U.S. embassy in Barbados. And I had the opportunity to write for a grant to be able to fund some of the work that I’m doing there.
So this past September, I facilitated four sessions for their business professionals and various different industries in retail and in banking, also in manufacturing. And my series was called “Developing an Agile Mindset for the Competitive Business Landscape.” And in this session, we spent time helping them to develop process improvement projects so that they can present those to their senior management at the end of the session.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Oh, great, that sounds exciting. Even when you were sharing that, I just saw how you just pulled different types of resources together. Some you, obviously, are familiar with, some, it may have been new to you. What type of advice would you give anyone in terms of: How do you reach out beyond your comfort zone to get on the next path of your journey?
Dr. Charlene Glenn: The number one thing, Marie, is you have got to be willing to learn something new. You’ve got to be willing to learn something new. And what really positioned me to be able to present this series on agility, about a year or two ago I attended a professional agile leadership training in New York for about two to three days, it was an intensive session.
As a matter of fact, I was the only higher ed professional in the room. I literally was in the room with all kinds of tech heads, but I was able to gain that knowledge and look at how I could apply it in higher ed and how I could develop something around it. So really the main point is you’ve got to be wanting to learn something new, you can’t be afraid to learn something new.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Exactly. And the one thing I was laughing when you said what happened, sometimes it seems like these opportunities appear out of nowhere and you get there and you’re like, “I’m the only one like me, what is this about?” What I heard you say was you just took the bull by the horns. It didn’t matter that you weren’t a tech head, it was like, here’s an opportunity.
And I think we as women, that’s what we have to do more. And instead of backing away or being afraid because we may not be prepared, it’s the walk through that door to see how far we can go with that new opportunity. And in speaking from that point of view, any other additional words of wisdom that you could give women in terms of preparing themselves for the next segment in their lifestyles?
Dr. Charlene Glenn: You’ve got to be able to stretch. And that probably also ties into being able, willing to learn. You also had to be able to evaluate your skillset. And sometimes we’ve got to be honest with ourselves to say, “Okay, where are the areas we really need to develop in?”
And that means taking an honest assessment of our skills. So being able to stretch, being able to evaluate our skills, and then being able to look at the trends and look at the opportunities that we could pursue. Because, yes, our economy, our society, everything is changing so fast and we’ve got to be able to read, and we’ve got to be able to pay attention to see what are the trends and what’s the next area that you jump on and focus on. Those would be my three.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: That sounds good too because it gives them something to look forward to as well as almost that outline for a roadmap. And I like the fact that we’re considered coaches now instead of being the overseers of all knowledge.
Dr. Charlene Glenn: Yes. Yes, yes.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: It’s engaging and it makes them part of the process versus us telling them what they can’t and can do. I wanted to ask you one final question on that. There have been times we have been put in the position of having students approach us because of what they believe they want to do.
And I say, unfortunately, but we have had a history of people focusing on job titles and job description, the career ladder. What are your thoughts?
I personally do not believe that the business of tomorrow that’s going to be the foundation. I think it’s going to be more teams, collaboration, working across industries as well as different countries pulling together. In your opinion, how do we add that factor in the preparation of individuals, especially women. How to fit into that type of model?
Dr. Charlene Glenn: It’s interesting you bring this up, Marie, because I’m going to be facilitating a session for our graduate open house on spark leadership. And the reason why this is pertinent to this discussion is the idea that any professional can lead in an organization. And it doesn’t matter what your title is, but you’ve got to be one, committed to the mission of your organization. Two, you’ve got to be interested in wanting to bring about change to improve it, and three, you’ve got to be willing to take action.
Most of us can be successful in the environments that we’re in if we’re committed to the mission. Now, if you find that you’re not committed to the mission or vision of the organization you probably need to go and you probably need to find another environment that you can connect up with.
But if you’re committed to it, you’ve got to be willing to figure out what are the areas or issues that you can solve? What can you help to bring the organization along in? And three, you’ve got to be willing to take action. Because any one of us can be a leader, and in this book that I’ve read, Spark Leadership, we all can be a spark if we want to be, but you’ve got to be committed to your environment and be committed to wanting to make change.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: I know I said that was my last question, but I did not know that was going to be your answer. I’ve never heard of Spark Leadership, I’m going to have to go out and get the book myself, but I’ve always said anybody can be a leader.
They buy into the vision that you see. And if you buy into the vision of the organization, that could be a lovely thing. But we have to fight against past practices where we have people pitted against each other because they’re trying to climb the ladder. That’s unfortunate, and I personally think that adds to toxic workplaces. I see a lot of books coming out on how to get around that.
We talked about how to challenge individuals to rise to the call and be those type of leaders. But, again, fighting the past. How do we deal with, in your opinion, how do we deal with the individuals who want everything to remain status quo and there are attempts to derail the efforts of those people who are willing to change? We see that a lot, but what are your thoughts on having to deal with those types of situations?
Dr. Charlene Glenn: Yeah. I have experienced that in my career. And I have to say, I’ve been successful at being able to rally around those individuals who saw my vision. But I will have to say that what stands out for me is that if you have the character in an organization, if you have credibility, if people see that you are accountable and that you understand what the vision and mission is of an organization, I believe that you can get them to work with you.
But it does speak to your character, your credibility, and are you somebody who’s accountable to what you say you’re going to do? And I think you have to stay focused on that. And when people see that you are taking actions that benefit the organization, whether they like it or not, they have to get on board eventually.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: I totally agree, I totally agree. Well, Charlene, I want to thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your expertise. And I think that was a fitting way to end because our topic has been on women in the workplace and how to forward their career during these times.
And you know as well as I do that because of personalities, women sometimes may struggle with what’s next because of many different factors. And I think you’ve touched with your past as well as present and future endeavors of some things that they can do to fit in where the world seems to be going. So for that, I thank you for giving those tips, those words of wisdom. Is there anything that you would like to say in closing?
Dr. Charlene Glenn: Go out there and be a spark.
Dr. Marie Gould Harper: Yes, I like that. You’ve taught me something today and I find that’s a good thing when I learn something in the interviews. We have been speaking with Dr. Charlene Glenn. This is Marie Gould Harper, thanking you for listening to our podcast today.
About the Guest:
Dr. Charlene Glenn is a Fulbright Scholar recipient with 20+ years in higher education as a professor, researcher, and administrator. She has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels in postsecondary education and facilitated customized training nationally and internationally on topics including: business management and operations, leadership, ethics, entrepreneurship, and business innovation. She has instructed courses and workshops through online, hybrid, and face to face delivery modalities.
Her experience and expertise involves work on program assessment and evaluation; accreditation evaluation and reporting; grant writing to aid curriculum development needs; and student programming to support “power” skill development. In order to improve and enhance her educational practice, she has engaged in action research projects focused on student engagement and retention best practices, virtual team dynamics, ethics instruction, and outcomes assessment instruments and results.
Dr. Glenn has presented on the national and international level on the following topics: online learning, outcomes assessment, student engagement and retention strategies, leadership development, global entrepreneurship, and agile methodology. Dr. Glenn recently accepted an invitation to serve as an education subject matter expert for the international professional women’s organization, iSAW. iSAW which stands for International Smart Advancing Women is committed to advancing gender equality globally and will launch in March. Connect with her on LinkedIn.