Hot take: Communications professor shares piece on Women’s History Month

Graphic courtesy of Whitney Ervin

Dr. Breann Murphy, Special to The Chanticleer

As I consider what Women’s History Month means to me, I believe it to be a time when we admire inspirational women, whether they be pioneers, colleagues, mentors, family or friends. It is a chance for us to admire their courage and determination in overcoming challenges and achieving important milestones, and an important milestone could be any type of accomplishment, such as running a marathon, starting a business, helping a friend in need or passing a course. But, whatever the achievement, we use this month to admire how these accomplishments inspire us, especially us women, to work hard, set goals, and support others.   

Additionally, this month is a chance for us to recognize the positive impact women have made in our own personal and professional life. Many of us have had those women in our life who helped to mold us into the individuals we are today, and the most impactful ones have been there to give us encouragement, mentorship, or advice. These actions provide us with the support we need to overcome life hurdles and celebrate the big and little moments. For this reason, it is vital we recognize these important women and thank them for inspiring us to keep moving forward.  

I consider myself fortunate to have many influential women in my life, and each one of them has taught me a different life lesson or influenced my career path. For instance, my research focus on women in leadership stemmed from my admiration of the incredible female leaders I have interacted with throughout my life, and the most impactful ones were those who taught me to be authentic, respect others, and have empathy. 

These characteristics are also reflected in my academic research findings. Since I was a doctoral student, I have dedicated my research to learning from the women in public relations who hold executive leadership positions, specifically Chief Communication Officers. These women have achieved incredible accomplishments, and there is one key similarity among them that speaks to their ability to be an effective and inspirational leader: they embrace a transactional-transformational approach to leadership, meaning they balance their professional responsibilities while continuing to build supportive relationships with others. As the minority in the executive room, these women want to support other women who currently hold or are seeking to obtain a similar leadership position. From these supportive, mentorship-like relationships, they learn how to be better leaders and celebrate each other’s accomplishments, creating a sense of community.  

This is a testament to the importance of Women’s History Month. While this month may mean something different to every woman, what this month means to me is that we recognize the personal and professional strides that women have made, and we take the time to highlight the valuable women in our own lives. In doing so, we embrace this month’s true meaning, which is to celebrate the women who provide us with support and inspiration to continue to be better in all aspects of our lives.  

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