Celebrating Women

Hello, Dr. Bhambi! I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving and start to the Holiday season. November was an historic month for women with the election of Kamala Harris, the first woman of color and the first South Indian to serve as Vice President of the United States. As the child of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, Harris’ election to the second-highest office in the nation represents a fulfillment of the promises that America’s founding fathers established in the formation of this great Republic.

As an immigrant from South India who can speak the same language as Kamala Harris’ mother Syamala Gopalan, I felt immensely proud and reflected on it on Twitter.

I’ve spent a lot of time these past few weeks reflecting on how far women have come in our society just within my lifetime, and how far we still have to go. In October, the Pre-Law Club at BC and our Women’s History and More Committee came together to host a tribute to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, commemorating her legacy of advocating for gender equality in the law. We had some heartfelt commentary in the tribute from Judge Susan Gill, BC professors Olivia Garcia and Pearl Urena, Kern County Superior Court Commissioner Cynthia Loo, Judge Robert Tafoya and more.

On November 17, I helped launch an important new organization with several women leaders in the community college system, including Deputy Chancellor Daisy Gonzales and KCCD Trustee Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, who was an important mentor to me during her time as a BC administrator. The California Community College Women’s Caucus gives women in higher education the chance to fellowship and share their experiences with their colleagues and start important conversations that help move the needle on encouraging more women to take leadership roles at community colleges.

Speaking as chair of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, or ACCJC, I focused my remarks at our inaugural meeting on Tuesday around some research about women in accrediting commissions for community colleges. Among the seven accrediting commissions recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or CHEA, there are five women presidents, or 71 percent. Among those same seven commissions, only two of the chairs are women, which is 28 percent. ACCJC is the only commission with more women commissioners than men with 12 of the total 20 commissioners, or 60 percent. Among the 213 total commission members of these seven institutions, only 86, or 40 percent, were women.

Representation on accreditation commissions like this are important because they determine the standards to which institutions of higher learning are held. The CCC Women’s Caucus will help women break through all the glass ceilings of educational leadership, whether it’s college presidents, trustee members, or accrediting commissioners.

Dr. Bhambi – I’d love to hear your thoughts about women in the medical field and how leadership opportunities for them have expanded over the course of your career. Stay safe, and I hope to talk to you again soon.


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