The political science department encouraged men and women to work hard to become successful leaders with their sixth annual Young Women’s Leadership Symposium (YWLS) on Friday, March 4.

APSU President Alisa White welcomed students and guests to the event. As a woman in a leadership position, she set the tone for the symposium by being a positive example of female leadership.

Seventy-two women and men attended the event and were educated on developing leadership skills and female empowerment.

Those in attendance had multiple choices for the YWLS sessions including Professor of Biology Amy Thompson’s session on women in science and Professor of Communication Christina Hicks-Goldston’s session on generational stereotypes on women. Each session had the common goal of informing students about leadership and service.

Junior social work major Alyssa Twine said she enjoyed the session that focused on overcoming generational stereotypes in the workplace.

“It helped me understand that throughout history the workplace has changed,” Twine said. “We don’t know what kind of people we will be working with and it’s important to understand that stereotypes can be inaccurate.”

After the sessions, students attended a luncheon where they were given a presentation on smart leadership.

Verinique Bailey, the luncheon speaker and founder of I AM ME, said the event was not just for females and explained why men were encouraged to attend.

“Women know that we need to lead, but having men educated on that helps them respect us as leaders.” Bailey said.

I AM ME is an organization that seeks to “seeks to empower all girls and women by teaching the value of one’s self… through the use of special events, service projects, and mentorship programs,” according to the official I AM ME website.

Marsha Lyle-Gonga, APSU associate professor of political science and the YWLS organizer, said the overall purpose of the event is to allow women to build on their abilities and develop confidence.

“Many of the leadership opportunities out there are based on the patriarchal view of male leadership, but women are very collaborative and participatory and therefore try to include other voices when they lead,” Lyle-Gonga said. “One of the major issues is that our voice is not being heard. When we talk about issues, it’s demeaned.”

Lyle-Gonga said the event is also intended to help others see what women can bring to leadership positions.

“Women tend to stick with what they are comfortable with and we don’t step outside of our comfort zone and talk about what needs to be talked [about] in fear that it will be looked down on or ignored,” Lyle-Gonga said. “We want people to see that we can do what needs to be done and we can do it effectively.”

Next year’s YWLS will take place on April 14, 2017. Both women and men are encouraged to attend.