Program coordinator helps college women break glass ceiling

Andrea Tinning

From empowering college students to helping professional women address the wage gap, Nancy Ewert’s job is to help young women succeed.

As a program coordinator at the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies office, Ewert oversees two leadership programs at the university dedicated to helping women prepare for the professional world.

“There still are areas where women face inequalities through no fault of their own,” Ewert said. “It gives them tools so that they can figure out how to succeed not only at school, but in their careers.”

In 2009, she was instrumental in creating INSPIRE, an organization dedicated to helping undergraduate women of all majors succeed at the University. Ewert said a major benefit of this organization is it fortifies women, especially STEM majors who may be outnumbered by men in the classroom, and helps them adjust to a large university in general. The effect is that many members of INSPIRE are able to break the glass ceiling in the professional world.

“Many go on to grad school, medical school (and) law school and have fantastic careers,” Ewert said.

But to get there, Ewert said, women need change, beginning in the realm of public policy. NEW Leadership Texas, another organization Ewert coordinates, brings together women from across the state who are interested in someday running for political office. Every summer, women involved with the organization meet in Austin to network and support each other in their efforts to break the status quo in politics.

“Women make up about 20 percent of Congress,” Ewert said. “We need more representation.”

Ewert said one of the best parts of her job is helping women succeed in any way that she can. She was reminded of this recently when an alumna of NEW Leadership Texas successfully ran for city council in Hyattsville, Maryland.

“She said she never could have done it without NEW Leadership because she reached out to people in her group for help with her website and fundraising that she didn’t have the time for,” Ewert said.