There are four women on USC’s 22-member board of trustees and two in the group of 14 university officials. To call for more women in leadership positions at USC, students, faculty and staff lit candles from the President’s House to the Osborne Administration building on Tuesday.
The event, called Lighting the Way for Women Leaders, was put on by the Provost Advisory Committee for Women’s Initiatives (PAWCI). This is the first year that PAWCI has organized an event of this kind, according to Mary Alexander, who helped organize the event.
“We just want to light the way for more women into the executive-level positions,” Alexander, assistant provost of academic administration and chief of staff, said. “It is a bunch of strong women that want to make sure that leadership here at the university knows that we would like to see more women represented in leadership."
After lighting their candles, visitors brought packed lunches and blankets to sit on the Horseshoe and socialize during the event. Alexander and Kim Pruitt, who also works on the Advisory Committee and helped plan the event, were hoping for up to 200 guests, but visitors dropped in and out throughout the two and a half hour event to light their candles and support the cause.
“President Pastides was very supportive of us hosting this event on the Horseshoe. We don’t host many events on the Horseshoe unless it's a special occasion, and they quickly pushed this through to allow us to do this today and that was very supportive,” Pruitt, the assistant director for organizational development, said.
Current university leaders are “supposed to represent the interests of all minorities on campus," Pruitt said.
Pruitt said she hopes to make this an annual event until more women are in university leadership.
Beverly Johnson, a USC staff member for almost 26 years, said she believes “it is time for a change.”
“I think this is awesome," Johnson, a human resources manager for the College of Pharmacy, said. "We need more women in leadership positions, and we need the spotlight on it."