Women leaders at The Ohio State University continue to blaze new trails when it comes to finding ways to empower other women and help them open doors to opportunity. The six women who make up the 2018 Glass Breakers all measure their success, in many ways, by how they are helping others, including providing needed mentorship to tackling issues as complex as dramatic changes to sexual harassment policies.
An important part of President Michael Drake’s 2020 Vision for Ohio State is a diversity and inclusion component that says the university will be a welcoming place for people “regardless of race, class, culture, gender, orientation or identity.” These six “Glass Breakers” embody the spirit of that mission through their actions both on and off campus.
Here are this year’s Glass Breaker honorees:
Lisa Abrams (PhD)
Associate chair, Department of Engineering Education
Abrams is known as an educator of inclusiveness and a champion of women. She’s spent nearly two decades at the university and has a passion for bringing women engineers together to support and learn from each other. She’s created and taught “Leading with Confidence” classes for women and “Inclusive Leadership” classes for men. The courses empower women and help men find ways to be allies to women and minorities and understand gender biases.
If we don’t address bias with the men, we’re still in that same environment, so it’s important that both sides are a part of the solution. There are so many men who are willing and interested and that’s what’s really exciting,
Lisa Abrams said of the importance of addressing the challenges of an inclusive workplace from both sides of the gender fence.
Gifty Ako-Adounvo (PhD)
Assistant vice provost for Global Strategies and International Affairs and interim senior international officer
A native of Ghana, Ako-Adounvo has been with Ohio State for 13 years and oversees international education initiatives for the university. She’s a life-long learner known for her resourcefulness and thoughtfulness. Ako-Adounvo, who oversees an office with a work force that’s 75 percent female, has made it a priority to foster an open dialogue about accommodating the needs of working mothers. As a member of the board of advisors for the university's Center for Ethics and Human Values, she serves as an advocate for those whose voices often are not heard.
I encourage staff to present at conferences of our professional organizations. I find frequently that we, as women, tend to downplay our strengths. Conferences are a chance to not only affirm the knowledge and experience we have, but also to learn from others, forge new relationships and networks, and get on the national stage,
Gifty Ako-Adounvo said in reference to leveraging available resources to empower employees.
Karen Dennis (MPE)
Director of men’s and women’s track and field/cross country
Dennis is one of the most respected women in the country’s track and field community and recently led the Ohio State men’s indoor track and field team to its first Big Ten championship in 25 years. She’s the first female collegiate coach to win a men’s championship. In addition to her work at the university, she’s also involved on the international track scene and led the U.S. women’s national team at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Dennis is known by her peers as someone who is passionate about empowering other women and helping them excel in a sporting culture that’s dominated by men. In 2012, she hired an all-female coaching staff, one of the few — if not the only — in the country.
As a young coach recruiting I was losing girls because they had never been coached by a female. Once I learned men were selected over me because of gender, the importance in having a more visible female leader for girls became personal. Losing top recruits because of my gender was insulting when I knew male coaches weren’t better; they were just men and most girls had never experienced or even seen a female coach,
Karen Dennis said about realizing the importance of hiring women in the early days of her career.
Dr. Joanna Groden
Professor and vice chair; co-director Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program; director, Pelotonia Fellowship Program
A nationally renowned scientist, Groden has promoted women throughout her career, including the 12 years she’s spent at Ohio State. She’s worked to increase the number of women and minorities in research education programs and is known for taking an active role in shaping the careers of others. She is one of the few women faculty members to hold a leadership role in the College of Medicine.
Ultimately our work force, including Ohio State trainees, faculty and leaders should reflect the diversity of the U.S. population and the world. I believe strongly that diversity gives us a greater range of ideas,
Joanna Groden said about her work to recruit diverse student classes each year.
Phyllis Teater (MBA)
Chief information officer, Wexner Medical Center
Teater has spent nearly three decades at Ohio State, beginning her career as a programmer and working her way up to her current post in 2010. She has combined emotional intelligence with deep technical knowledge to rise to the top of her field. Teater is known for her thoughtful and insightful leadership and strategic information technology business acumen. She works to provide best-in-class technology for the university’s integrated health care system.
When you care about your employees, guess what, they care about you, too. You have to be able to build the kind of trust so they can come to you and tell you something bad. If they don’t tell me, I can’t help,
Phyllis Teater said referring to her caring leadership style.
Tracy Tylka (PhD)
Professor of psychology, Ohio State Marion
Tylka is known as a creative thinker who hasn’t shied away from tackling tough issues at the Marion campus, including revamping sexual harassment policies. Her research is focused on the positive and negative aspects of body image on eating behavior. Among her accomplishments are a large body of published, peer-reviewed papers and recently being named editor-in-chief of the professional journal Body Image. Tylka is passionate about gender equality and finding ways for men and women to be treated equally at the Marion campus.
I have brought sensitive topics experienced by female professors to the deans — sexual harassment, unfair instruction ratings of female and minority faculty members. I am a liaison as well as an advocate for female faculty,
Tracey Tylka said in reference to her work to make sure women are treated the same as their male colleagues.