Professor Therese Lueck
UA Chapter AWC 2005 Induction
April 14, 2005
A LEGACY OF LEADERSHIP
The Association for Women in
Communications is the most recent name of the national professional organization
that was known from the 1970s until the mid-1990s as Women in Communications,
This organization, which today spans the
communication disciplines, was founded by a group of journalism students at the
University of Washington in Seattle in 1909 as Theta Sigma Phi. It soon became a
network for women in the male-dominated field of journalism.
Here in the School of Communication at the
University of Akron, the Women in Communications chapter was started in the Fall
A number of your professors, who are also
leaders in the community, have served as advisors of this group. They include
Dr. Endres, who is a University Distinguished Professor. The title,
“Distinguished Professor” is the highest rank the university can bestow on
any faculty member, so the title denotes membership in an exclusive group. Dr.
Endres was only the second woman in the history of the university to achieve
this honor. And your own advisor, Dr. Spiker, serves not only as an Associate
Professor in Communication but as a university administrator – an Associate
Dean in the College of Fine & Applied Arts.
But just like its national roots, the
University of Akron chapter has always been a student-driven group. Let me give
you a couple of examples from my time as advisor. Those of you who have taken
the “Women, Minorities & News” course are already familiar with the
Women, Men and Media project that the Women in Communications students undertook
in the 1990s. They replicated the studies that had counted women on the front
pages of newspapers across the nation, doing the same thing with the newspapers
in Northeast Ohio. At that time, these annual studies were something new, and
one editor at the New York Times had dismissed them as so much “bean
counting.” But as the Women in Communications students counted the times women
and men appeared on the front pages – in photos, bylines and stories – they
made a lot more marks in the men’s column. For them, this was much more than
“bean counting.” Their eyes were opened. They saw that, although the doors
to the newsroom had been opened to women, they would still have to prove
themselves to get their stories onto the front page.
At that time, I was a member of the
national Progress of Women in Communications committee, and we presented the
findings of that study at a POWIC dinner in Cleveland.
Dinners and functions such as this gave
the students exposure to the professional community and chances to network with
women and men who were eager to consider them for internships and employment.
Another project that the students
initiated while I was advisor was a fund drive for the Ruth B. Lewis Memorial
Scholarship. Coming from the broadcast professions of television and radio, Dr.
Lewis was a long-time media professor and the senior woman in the department.
She had recently died, and her students wanted to honor her in a meaningful way.
A memorial scholarship had been established in her name to specifically address
the needs of women and minorities, two groups to which Dr. Lewis had devoted her
life, both through academics and activism. The students decided to invite alumni
to honor Dr. Lewis by contributing to her scholarship. Their well designed
petition was met with eagerness. They were successful not only in raising money
for the scholarship but in establishing ties with the alumni.
One of the benefits of working in a
women-centered group is that such a group promotes leadership qualities in
women. Even today, in mixed-gender groups, women tend to look to men to be the
leaders and the spokespeople, perhaps never giving themselves the opportunity to
develop their own such qualities. Therefore, when we look at most women in
leadership positions, we find that they have developed their leadership skills
in all-women or predominantly female groups.
With the name change to Women in
Communications in the 1970s, the national organization also allowed men to
become active members. The University of Akron chapter has, throughout its
history, often involved a male student or two. These have been men who are not
threatened by strong women, men who are not afraid to work with a woman as a
As a member of the Association for Women
in Communications, you’ll gain a better appreciation of the women around you.
You’ll recognize how many uniquely talented women you have in your life, and
how very important your relationships with them are. By working with these
women, you’ll also recognize your own strengths and develop your own skills.
Too often we stereotype women or overlook their accomplishments. As a member of
this association, you’ll become more aware of the talents of the women with
whom you’re working, and as you interact with them, you’ll find that
you’re developing your own confidence, potential and leadership skills along
As students – you’re probably commuter
students – you’re also family members and most likely under-paid employees.
You are busily engaged in many life roles right now. I’m so happy that
you’ve made a place in your life to work with this group. I encourage you to
enjoy this time you spend together.
for Women in Communications, national association website: http://www.womcom.org/index2.html