Author: Annie Butts, NACWAA
“We can reignite the revolution by internalizing the revolution. The shift to a more equal world will happen person by person. We move closer to the larger goal of true equality with each woman who leans in.”
When Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In was published and quickly received national attention earlier this year, it was a pleasant surprise to discover how closely the Lean In mission aligned with NACWAA’s mission. Sandberg advocates for women around the world by encouraging them to let go of fear and take ownership of their careers – to dream bigger, to raise their hands and to raise their voices.
Like Sandberg, NACWAA takes an active role in helping women advance in their careers and celebrates them when they lean in. We are inspired by women like Amy Huchthausen (pictured), NACWAA Board of Directors member and commissioner of the America East Conference, who has been a prime example of how a woman can reach the top by leaning in.
In her book, Sheryl Sandberg poses a powerful and thought-provoking question: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
For Amy Huchthausen, the answer to this involved leaving a five-year stint at the NCAA to pursue a position that she knew would present many challenges, a big learning curve and little time to ease in. “I said during the search process that if I got the America East job, it would be the biggest professional challenge of my career and it has certainly been just that,” she noted. Huchthausen’s hiring marked the first time a woman had ever held the top position at the Division I America East Conference – and a victory for all women in the male-dominated world of intercollegiate athletics administration.
In many ways, Huchthausen’s career path both reflects and echoes the thoughts put forth by Sheryl Sandberg in Lean In:
Sandberg encourages women to attract mentors naturally by working hard, and to cultivate the relationship as a reciprocal one. Huchthausen credits Wellesley Athletic Director Bridget Belgiovine with being an influential mentor and teacher: “She was the first person willing to ask me questions in order to draw out the shy, introverted student worker in her office and hasn’t stopped since.”
Sandberg advises seeking and speaking your truth in the workplace. Huchthausen emphasizes that success is intertwined with integrity and self-awareness: “Learn yourself, know yourself and be comfortable with yourself. Self-awareness is critical if you expect to grow and advance.”
Sandberg urges women to avoid being passive, to sit confidently at the table and to raise their hands. Huchthausen acknowledges that advancement must be earned: “You deserve to be treated fairly and with respect, but you do not deserve a promotion or a raise just for being good at your job or being a good person. You earn those things.”
Read Amy’s Pathways story in the NACWAA Career Center.