Dr Sinda Vanderpool

This article is available on Universities Canada’s Media Room here.

This year’s theme for Women’s Day is “embrace equity.” What does that mean to you?

To me, embracing equity looks like showing up with courage in life every day. It means not being afraid to question the status quo. It means pointing out some of the assumptions that those around you may be operating from. It means paying attention to the voices of those on the margins. And, as a leader, it means elevating and amplifying the voices that need to be heard. When I’m sitting in board rooms, one of my favorite things to do is to highlight to those in the room what a quieter person may have just said, ensuring that she gets the credit for her good ideas. It means seeking out talent in those who are younger in their careers than you and telling them that you see potential in them. It means helping them see that in themselves and then mentoring them toward growth.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

For the next generation of future leaders, I would say surround yourself with people who believe in you and see your potential. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you to keep showing up and getting better—until you become that leader that they know you can be. Find a group you can be honest with especially when it comes to unconscious bias you’ve experienced in rooms that you have been in. You are not making it up, and it becomes real when we shine light on it. Be courageous about reaching out to others who you feel you can relate to for help. Life is a journey that we live together, holding each other’s hands. As you grow, learn to be both vulnerable and courageous at the same time—in your own style, with your own voice, being true to your own personality and giftings.