Deborah Streeter is the Bruce F. Failing, Sr. Professor of Personal Enterprise and Small Business Management at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. Entrepreneurship and small business management are the focus of Dr. Streeter’s teaching, research, and outreach activities. Her research interests include: university-wide models for teaching entrepreneurship, use of digital media in teaching, and gender issues in business and entrepreneurship. Dr. Streeter has received acclaim as an educator, based on her promotion of experiential learning, active learning, and innovative uses of technology inside and outside the classroom. In 2007, Dr. Streeter was given the Olympus Innovator Award by the Olympus Corporation. She received the Constance E. and Alice H. Cook Award in 2004, Professor of Merit Award in 2002, and was named influential to a Merrill Scholar in 1999, 2000, and 2003. Dr. Streeter was awarded the 2001 CALS National Food and Agricultural Sciences Excellence in College and University Teaching, and was named a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow in 2000 (Cornell’s most prestigious teaching award). She also received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2000 and the Innovative Teaching Award in 1996. Dr. Streeter holds an MS (1980) and PhD (1984) in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Research shows that both women and men equate being a leader with being male. Leadership itself is male gendered. How does that affect women's ability to advance to the highest levels of leadership? How does it impact the aspirations of women aspiring to top levels?
Just look at any of the lists of 50 or 100 top leaders and you can count the number of women on one hand. Do an online search of leadership authors: They are mostly older (and mostly white) men. Both women and men inherently associate leadership power with men. Why is this so?
For centuries, men have held the highest power in all kinds of organizations. This predominance of men as leaders has an impact on our concept of leadership. We associate leadership with stereotypically masculine traits: aggression, decisiveness, willingness to engage in conflict, strength, orientation towards action, and other masculine stereotypes. This remains true even though not all male leaders exhibit such traits. What we can say with certainty is that our mental map of leadership for many years has been dominated by white male role models. This gendering of leadership is true even though when researchers study the key aspects of leadership, there are no gender differences in effectiveness.
In this course, co-authored by Cornell University's Deborah Streeter and Susan S. Fleming, students will assess their own organizations to determine the gender status and power dynamics present. They will use tactics to reduce gender bias in themselves and in the organization. They will identify strategies used to influence the workplace culture to be one of greater parity and use practical strategies to bring forward the contributions of both women and men in group settings. Leadership efforts are also personal: students will create an action plan for themselves, choosing among the recommended strategies to find those most appropriate for their specific context to enhance their own status and power.
Key Course Takeaways
- Assess your organization and yourself as a leader to determine the gender status and power dynamics present
- Implement strategies to influence the workplace culture to be one of greater parity
- Use strategies to bring forward the contributions of both women and men in group settings
- Recognize when gender bias is present so that you can implement strategies to overcome its limiting effects
- Create an action plan to guide your efforts to enhance your own status and power
How It Works
From 2010 to 2018, Dr. Susan S. Fleming was a Senior Lecturer at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. Currently, she is an executive educator and frequent speaker on women in leadership and entrepreneurship, a corporate director, an active angel investor and a mom. Fleming began her career on Wall Street, where over a period of twelve years she held various positions in the investment community, including that of analyst at Morgan Stanley & Co.; vice president of Insurance Partners, L.P., a $540 million private equity fund; and partner at Capital Z Financial Services Partners, a $1.85B private equity fund.
After retiring from Wall Street in 2003, Fleming began work as an educator, teaching executives, investment professionals, MBAs, and undergraduates in the areas of corporate finance, insurance, valuation, and gender bias. She also enrolled at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management to pursue a PhD in management, where her research focused on better understanding the factors contributing to a dearth of women in leadership positions in U.S. society.
In addition to her work as an educator, researcher, and business consultant, Fleming helped to found a startup company in Ithaca, NY; has served on the board of directors of five publicly traded insurance and reinsurance companies, two private companies, and three non-profit organizations; and currently serves on the board of RLI Corp., a publicly traded specialty insurer serving diverse, niche property, casualty and surety markets, and Virtus Investment Partners, Inc., a publicly traded asset management firm. Fleming has been published in the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, Psychology of Women Quarterly, the Journal of Higher Education, and Cornell Hospitality Reports and holds a BA from the University of Virginia, and an MS and PhD in management from Cornell University.
Who Should Enroll
- Women leaders in mid- to senior-level positions (10+ years of work experience)
- Women who hold or are interested in seeking board positions
- Women entrepreneurs and founders
- Male leaders seeking to better understand gender dynamics in their organizations