Bethel University launches initiative to empower future female leaders

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In the United States, experts say women make up half the workforce, yet men hold more leadership positions and receive more pay for their roles compared with women.

"One of the things we talk about is, you can’t be what you can’t see," said Jeanne Osgood, associate vice president of development and planned giving at Bethel University.

It’s part of the drive behind a new initiative at Bethel University called The 25.

"As we were talking about how we were going to empower women, we looked back at our own experiences, our own journey’s through life and talked about what would it have been like if we would’ve had some women that have gone before us walking alongside of us," said Osgood, who founded The 25.

She says the initiative is meant to empower female students.

"What drives this program is our ability to come alongside of women as they think about what is going to be their role, and what is their skill set, and what will they be empowered to do once they leave," she adds.

Ross Allen is the president of Bethel University and says he has seen firsthand how this program will help.

"We need to figure out ways where we can encourage women to step forward and be confident and know that we will support them, ensure that the environment is such where they can feel like they can step in and be successful," Allen said.

Anna Arland, a senior economics and finance major, says she is fortunate to be a student helping establish The 25.

"I think it just helps reiterate the idea that you can do anything you want and that things shouldn’t be decided by your gender," Arland said.

The program will pull 25 freshman women from the Bethel University fall 2021 class and connect them with female leaders from diverse backgrounds and interests, helping them navigate their leadership journey through internships, mentorships and friendships.

The hope is the idea can be utilized in other settings as well.

"This is just a model that other companies, other schools may want to embrace and endorse and hopefully replicate in whatever area of influence they are in," Osgood said.