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Female leaders to gather at EFLI festival

The Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute is holding the Women and Leadership Festival at Boston University on April 22 and 23, a series of interactive workshops and discussions promoting women’s leadership through self-empowerment, collaboration and activism.

“We would love to engage with the community and then learn a lot from what’s going on at BU’s campus in terms of leadership and communities for women,” said EFLI Campus Coordinator Katie Rapp.

EFLI only used to host summer leadership programs for students in New York, but as its participants began to graduate and attend different universities, Rapp said EFLI saw a need to expand its services to campuses across the country.

She said EFLI had a conversation with BU students and organizations to determine women’s issues that were particularly relevant to the BU community.

“A couple of themes came up. They [students] were wondering about safety on campus and talking about putting these ideas into action,” Rapp said. “One of the biggest themes that came about was a sense of community and, on such a big campus, how to create or find communities and create that deeper connection with people.”

She said yoga, meditation and journaling were some of the practices that would be offered in workshops and could benefit women in their daily lives.

BU alumnae will also be present at the workshops to speak about their experiences after graduating, she said.

School of Hospitality Administration senior Melina Indrasena, who serves as the liaison between BU and EFLI, said she and representatives from the Center for Gender, Sexuality & Activism talked about safety issues with the EFLI that they should address during the festival.

“BU is a very Greek-dominated school,” she said. “A lot of women have difficulty finding themselves and their friends if they are not involved in such activities.”

Indrasena said female BU students were also concerned about robberies as well as a “party culture,” where women are at risk of being taken advantage.

“Many times it is hard for women, especially college women, to make the changes they want to make due to the outside pressures we have to endure,” she said.

Naomi Spungen, a College of Arts and Sciences junior, said she hopes the workshops would address issues women face in the workplace.

“There should be discussion about how women can identify when they’re being slighted and when they’re not receiving equal treatment as their male coworkers,” she said, “or how women can go about negotiating to get raises if they think that they’re not receiving fair compensation for their work because of their gender.”

Spungen said she was proud of the Women and Leadership Festival’s mission for aiming to empower women.

“People should be reminded that they have a voice and that whatever position they’re qualified for they should be able to assume regardless of what their gender is,” she said.

CAS junior Helen Petty said including males in the event could be productive.

“It’s also a male-dominated leadership society,” she said. “It would be beneficial to incorporate dialogue amongst all college students, not necessarily just women, because everyone’s in the same boat for leadership positions when we get out in the world.”

Tori Hanley, a sophomore in CAS, said she expects the festival would be a success.

“We have a lot of strong feminists and a ‘go girls’ vibe on campus, and it [female empowerment] is definitely something that should be addressed,” she said. “Self-motivation, finding yourself, being able to know that you can be a leader and finding that confidence is important for anyone.”

The festival will be held at 1 Silber Way, and is open to all women, regardless of their affiliation with BU. Attendees can register at www.efli-life.org/bostonu.

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