Several Neag School graduate students and faculty have been named2019-20 Initiative on Campus DialoguesFellows. This initiative brings together UConn students, staff, and faculty, as well as nonuniversity practitioners, to focus on dialogue and implementation. Sport Management graduate students Charles Macaulay and Ajhanai Newton, with Laura Burton and Justin Evanovich, are Fellows with their project “Sports Talk: Creating Dialogical Classrooms for the Development of Future Sport Leaders;”
Gerardo Blanco is a Fellow with the project “Promoting Cosmopolitanism through Global Dialogue in the Classroom”; and Patricia O’Rourke, a graduate student in curriculum and instruction, is a Fellow on the project “Continuing Project: Democratic Public Dialogue on Equity and Integration in Education.”Read more about Neag School’s ICD Fellows for 2019-20.
UConn’s Department of Educational Leadership (EDLR) offers a rich and diverse curriculum that prepares both undergraduate and graduate students to be educational leaders in our ever-changing world. The “Courses and Curriculum” series highlights innovative courses within EDLR’s catalog that are changing the education game for the better.
In EDLR 3345: Financial Management in the Sport Industry, taught by Professor Laura Burton, Ph.D., is an undergraduate course which provides Sport Management majors with an understanding of the financial principles relevant to the sport industry. The course examines basic financial concepts and issues related to sport, and offers an overview of ownership, taxation, financial analysis, feasibility and economic impact studies within the sport industry.
Burton identified a need for this content and added the course to the curriculum, five years ago. While Burton’s research is centered around leadership in sport organizations and gender issues in sport, EDLR 3345 pushed her outside of her traditional area of expertise, offering a great opportunity and challenge. Having an applied math-based course helps to answer real-world questions within the sport industry, one that the students are benefiting from.
As sport organizations attempt to create a more inclusive space, in regards to social and gender identity, people in higher level positions are faced with some important questions. In what ways can professional sport organizations maximize revenue? And who benefits? What communities are disadvantaged? Burton explains how not only do students consider the financial impact of budget cuts within the sport industry, for example, but the social impact as well. Such a fundamental course provides students with the tools to build on their understanding of budgets and further develop these ideas in other related and unrelated fields.
By using practical applications and case studies, Burton is able to create real-life scenarios depicting real-life budgeting dilemmas. In one such budgeting case, Burton presents a $40,000 budget cut and challenges her students to make the cut in the most effective manner. The experiment suggests that such a cut would leave athletes without scholarships, slash salaries, and limit job availability.
One of the biggest challenges Burton says especially with a course that is math-related is helping students get over the “math-hating mentality.” Burton admits that there was a lot that she had to learn and continues to learn alongside her students. Within education, it’s easy to experience feelings of frustration and anxiety when learning something new, but she continues to push herself and her students and says,
“Sometimes we forget what it feels like to be the student and sit in the seat.”
UConn Today covers two EDLR faculty researchers, Drs. Jennie Weiner and Laura Burton who will be serving as PI and Co-PI during their investigation on 25 black, female principals and how microaggressions and discrimination affect their experiences.
This research is funded by a Spencer Foundation Grant.
Women currently represent almost 77% of the teaching workforce. And yet, only about 50% of principals are women (2014), and less than a quarter of school district superintendents are female. Moreover, this is true despite the fact, according to research by Brunner and Kim in 2010, female superintendents tend to be, on average, more prepared for the role than their male counterparts.
The frequent tendency towards grooming and selecting white males for leadership positions over their female and minority counterparts is reflective of larger systemic racism and sexism still present in our society. While most of the behaviors limiting the opportunities of women in educational leadership are subtle and ambiguous—they are discriminatory and harmful nonetheless.
In the fall of 2018, the Connecticut Association of Public School Principals (CAPSS) and the Department of Educational Leadership’s Drs. Laura Burton and Jennie Weiner kicked off the “Women in the Central Office” seminar series, which explores some of the underlying factors of how gender bias and discrimination impact women leaders. Most recently was a session focused on “workplace incivility” and the elements that may contribute to it, including why women experience more uncivil behaviors than men and why women may perpetuate or be perceived to perpetuate uncivil behavior towards other women. Acting as a safe space for female leaders to gather and discuss the ways their social identities shape their beliefs and experiences in their roles and the world at large, these workshops aim to address ways to combat gender bias as well as other forms of discrimination from an individual and organizational perspective.
“We name gender bias and other forms of discrimination (i.e., social identities) to move away from blaming women or asking them to change themselves or their behaviors to fit better with unfair expectations and norms. Instead, we orient our conversations towards helping women leaders to live and lead authentically and in ways true to their values.”
-Drs. Laura Burton and Jennie Weiner
The seminar approach enables participants, comprised of current and aspiring women superintendents, assistant superintendents and other district-level administrators, to make their voices heard on issues directly affecting them and their careers. Discussions in the first installment of the series included networking, incivility at work, and gender and race-based discrimination in the role. In upcoming seminars, these discussions will extend to issues of work-life interface and the expectations put on working women to “do it all.”
The purpose of the series is to bring focus and voice to the special and unique experiences of women in educational leadership—experiences shaped by social identity.
Additionally, in the series, participants have the opportunity to challenge institutional bias, network with women leaders across Connecticut, learn skills and strategies to enhance their effectiveness as a female leader, and enlighten others around issues of work culture and improvement.
Research is the cornerstone of the seminar series—both Drs. Burton and Weiner bring together expertise on women in leadership in sport and organizational change, respectively. Together, they have built a collaborative research agenda to explore how gender and racial bias impacts opportunity and experience in education. More specifically, recently together they looked at how the construction of turnaround leadership and school leadership tends to favor white male professionals by analyzing experiences in turnaround principal preparation programs. In this research, they found that women were often subject to gender bias concerning their leadership approach and acumen. Moreover, they found little discussion or awareness of the effects of gender bias in school leadership. Consequently, this silence caused the women to blame themselves regarding others’ negative feedback, diminishing their sense of efficacy or opportunity in leadership roles.
Most recently, Drs. Burton and Weiner worked with Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy (LLEP) doctoral student, Daron Cyr, on research funded by the Obama Administration’s Initiative on Women and Girls of Color to explore the impacts of leadership preparation programs’ failure to discuss issues of social identity. The research focuses primarily on perpetuated microaggressions towards black female participants, highlighting a need for educational institutions to tackle issues of racism and sexism plaguing career advancement in education.
Combating the silence, their research paired with these workshops empower women to engage in deep conversation about their collective and unique experiences, and afford them the opportunity to strategize enhancements to the experiences of women in educational leadership.
Drs. Burton and Weiner are proud of the success of the series thus far, and look forward to the upcoming seminars on January 11, March 15 and May 3, 2019. For more information please visit the CAPSS website.
Each year, the U.S. Department of State, the Center for Sport, Peace & Society at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, and espnW co-sponsor the Global Sports Mentoring Program’s (GSMP) Empower Women Through Sports. This is an international leadership development initiative that recognizes female achievement in sport, and aims to empower women to be ambassadors of change for female athletes around the world. The initiative is based on evidence that women and girls who are exposed to sport increase their chances of success both on the field and in other areas of their lives.
“When women and girls can walk on the playing field, they are more likely to step into the classroom, the boardroom, and step out as leaders in society.”
-U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
This year GSMP is partnering 15 emerging female leaders from 14 countries with leading executives and experts in the U.S. sports industry. We are excited to announce that the Department of Educational Leadership’s Laura Burton, Danielle DeRosa and Jennifer McGarry were selected to serve as mentors to an emerging leader from Vietnam, Dr. Tra Giang “Jane” Nguyen. This is DeRosa’s second year as a program mentor, while both Burton and McGarry will be serving as mentors for the third year in a row. The Department welcomed Dr. Nguyen on October 5th and will host her until October 24th.
Dr. Nguyen’s passion for sport began at a young age as she excelled as a top youth table tennis player. However, her achievements in sport would grow beyond her success as an athlete. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, she moved to Thailand to pursue her M.S. and Ph.D. in Exercise and Sport Management from Burapha University. During her studies she was exposed to Sport Management and Psychology for the first time, which prompted her to create the first non-physical sport curriculum when she returned to Vietnam – including courses in sport management, marketing, economics, and tourism.
In her current role as a professor with the Institute of Sport Science and Technology at the University of Sport Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Dr. Nguyen bridges the theories she teaches in the classroom with real-world experience – often inviting her students to assist her in coordinating major sport conferences and other events throughout the year. In 2017, Jane organized the International Conference on Sport Management, the first university sport conference ever held in Vietnam with more than 200 professors representing 28 countries.
In addition to her university work, Dr. Nguyen served as general manager for Thailand’s men’s and women’s national ice hockey teams at the 2017 Asian Games in Japan where the men won the gold medal. She also managed the team during the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia where the men won the silver medal. She currently works within the association to secure funding to run ice hockey camps for girls and women.
Dr. Nguyen is also currently working on a major project inspired by her time with Sport for Tomorrow, an initiative led by the Japanese government. Specifically her project titled, “Walk and Run for Tomorrow” will consist of a marathon and other racing events for students with and without disabilities in Ho Chi Minh City.
In her featured GSMP emerging leader profile, she explains “In Southeast Asian countries, we are very patriarchal. Women never have time to exercise or think about sports. That is why I work with students. I want to change the mindset in Vietnam so that women can participate in sports. And I want to show people it isn’t only physical education; sport can make the lives of all people better.” Although there are barriers for women to participate in sport, Jane sees her role as an advocate in this regard.
“We are so pleased to continue our involvement in this exciting and meaningful program. GSMP has has such a positive impact on the lives of girls and women around the world, and we lucky to play a role in support of the program. Dr. Nguyen is a natural ‘fit’ with us here at UConn, as she teaches and supports students in sport management at her university, while also seeking to positively impact the lives of girls and women through sport and physical activity.”
-Dr. Laura Burton, UConn Sport Management Professor and GSMP Mentor
Throughout the month, Dr. Nguyen will be spending time with Sport Management faculty at UConn to learn more about the context of sport in the U.S., non-profit development and social entrepreneurship, and gender and leadership development in sport. To share the GSMP mission more broadly with the UConn community, the Sport Management Program will host Dr. Sarah Hillyer, Director of the Center for Sport, Peace & Society at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, to talk about empowerment through sport on October 11, 2018. This event will be a part of the Beyond the Field Speaker Series, and is free and open to the public.
To date, GSMP has graduated 99 delegates who have gone on to impact 225,000 lives in more than 55 countries. Our department is fortunate to have had the opportunity to mentor delegates and be a part of this change. We look forward to continuing to carry out this mission, and are excited to welcome Dr. Nguyen this year!