Utah State University President Noelle Cockett joined five other women in January for a program and luncheon at the Leadership of Women Celebration held by the Sundance Institute in Salt Lake City.
Currently, women head half of the major intermountain colleges and universities: the University of Utah, Utah Valley University, Utah State University, Boise State University, Westminster College and Salt Lake Community College. The event, held in conjunction with Zions Bank, was lead by KRCL’s Eugenie Jaffe, host of “12 o’clock Women Who Rock” and included a special talk from feminist leader Pat Mitchell.
In total, nine women accepted an award for their excellence in leadership, including Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, a representative from Ecuador, and House of Lords member Baroness Emma Nicholson. A short film was shown of each woman’s accomplishments before they were invited on stage to accept the award.
“Power is sometimes difficult for a woman to acknowledge,” Mitchell said during her talk with Sundance co-founder Amy Redford. “It can feel like a huge responsibility to take on. Women must change the nature of power, rather than let power change them.”
Mitchell worked with another feminist icon, Gloria Steinem, in the late ‘70s to bring the ideas of the women’s movement into reality. Before the award ceremony, the Sundance Institute showed Julie Taymor’s film, “The Glorias,” starring Julianne Moore, a biographical narrative on the incredible life of Steinem herself.
“Listening to others is how we survive,” Redford said. “We must look at others as our partners, our allies, rather than our enemies. We all evolve.”
The Sundance Festival is now in its 40th year and 44% of this year’s films were directed by women — 37% were directed by women of color.
“We need to continue to support and recognize women,” Jaffe said. “Do not be afraid to ask for advice or find a mentor. There shouldn’t be competition.”
Jaffe also said to never turn down an opportunity to do something you love. She has been a radio host for nearly ten years and has never given up.
“The more scared you are, the more you should do it,” Jaffe said. “Face your fears.”
The ceremony ended in camaraderie and joy. Everyone shook hands and gave hugs.
Redford ended the event with a call to action: “Let’s continue to lead the way for women.”