A Global Symposium on Women’s Leadership at Oxford

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Oxford University

Gayle Colston Barge presents on the importance of work-life balance for African American women

During the first week of December, thought leaders from across the world converged for the Oxford Women’s Leadership Symposium held at Somerville College, Oxford University. Among the featured speakers was Gayle Colston Barge, Ed.D., vice president of institutional advancement at Bellevue College.

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Gayle Colston Barge

The symposium serves as a global forum for the presentation of papers and discourse in the theory and practice of women’s studies and covers women’s leadership  issues in the public and private sectors. Topics have included gender equity, women’s leadership development, gender and the environment, glass ceilings in the workplace, and women and media studies. The December event included presentations such as “Women in Vedic Culture,” “Commercial Decision-Making Practices of Female Startups,” “Exploring the Gender Roles and Their Conditioning in Contemporary Russia” and “The Future of Leadership:  Why Feminism Matters.” Presenters hailed from institutions in Canada, Saudi Arabia, England, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the United States.

This was the second time Barge has participated in the international forum. For the December gathering, she co-presented “Resiliency and Strength of Women Leaders Around the Globe” with Margaret Weber, Ph.D., dean emeritus; Kerri Cissna- Heath, Ed.D., adjunct professor; and Lene Martin, Ed.D., adjunct professor; all of Pepperdine University.

“I was honored by the invitation, and the chance to present with exceptional colleagues from my alma mater,” said Barge, who earned her doctorate from Pepperdine. “It was also a unique opportunity to represent Bellevue College, and its mission of inclusion and global awareness, in such a renowned setting.”

For her segment of the presentation, Barge focused on the  importance of understanding the historical and socioeconomic impact of balancing work and family on African American women in leadership positions. It’s a subject she had explored in depth for her doctoral thesis, A phenomenological study of competing priorities and African American women striving to achieve work-life balance.

“While this conversation is familiar within the broader scope of feminism, the needs and challenges faced specifically by women of color is not as widely known,” said Barge. “As we ascend the corporate ladder, sometimes it’s too easy for us to assume the role of caretaking others at our own expense. But when we prioritize self-care as part of creating a fulfilling workspace, family space and spiritual  space, we fill the well of resiliency, which in turn supports our long-term success, and the success of our community.”

It’s a leadership style that Barge models at Bellevue College in support of her award-winning team. This year the department garnered one gold, two silver and two bronze Medallion Awards, as well as a Paragon Award, from the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations.

– by Nicole Beattie


Last Updated July 31, 2019