The #3Wedu Conversation: Challenging Barriers for Women Who Innovate

Concurrent Session 1

Brief Abstract

This session will provide a forum for all conference participants to engage in a meaningful conversation about ways women are innovating in academia; why it is important for them to be part of the conversation, and ways women’s ideas can be heard at all levels of the innovative organization.


Dr. Jessica Knott is Assistant Vice President of Community Strategy, Experience, and Management. In this role, Jessica manages outreach activities and strategies, including environmental scanning, experience design, communications and planning, based on a deep understanding of our community and member interests. Prior to the OLC, Jessica led a team that supported faculty and academic staff in creating quality, caring and exemplary digital experiences at Michigan State University.
Tanya Joosten, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist, the Director of Digital Learning Research and Development, and advisor to the Provost for innovation projects at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Dr. Joosten leads the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA). She is nationally recognized in her work in blended and online learning as an Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Fellow and works to guide strategic digital learning efforts on campus, across the UW System, and nationally as an advisor to the Provost, a member of the University of Wisconsin System Learning Technology Executive Council, and a member of several national boards and committees. Currently, Dr. Joosten leads a national research initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Education working to provide access to research models and methods, facilitating innovate processes of data collection, and encouraging the replication of research across institutions through the DETA Research Toolkit to identify key instructional and institutional factors that influence student success with particular attention to underrepresented students. Dr. Joosten has a background in the social sciences hailing from the field of communication. Her notable keynotes include eLearning Asia, ITC eLearning Conference, and SACS COC President’s event, and her ideas have been highlighted on plenary panels at the UW-Madison Annual Distance Teaching and Learning conference and the OLC International Conference for Online Learning. You can find her ideas and work cited in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Forbes, U.S. News World and Report, and more. Recent interviews with Dr. Joosten are available on ResearchInAction and TOPcast available on iTunes. Her book on social media is available from Wiley Publishing, she has authored numerous articles, chapters, and encyclopedia entries on human and social interactions and digital learning, and she often writes invited blog posts and magazine articles for organizations, such as EDUCAUSE, WCET, Inside Higher Ed, and Pearson. Dr. Joosten previously worked as the Director of the Learning Technology Center leading faculty development and engagement initiatives, pedagogical and technological innovation projects, core learning technology oversight, and blended and online program development.
Dr. Prusko has over 15 years of experience developing innovative pedagogical approaches using multiple modalities. She holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering (B.S.), and Business Management (MBA) from Union College, and Curriculum and Instruction (Ph.D.) from University at Albany. As Associate Director of Learning Design within the Harvard Graduate School of Education Dr. Prusko oversees the design, development and project management of online and technology enhanced courses. Prior to her current role, Dr. Prusko worked as an Instructional Designer at Cornell University in the Center for Teaching Innovation, and as a faculty member at State University of New York, Empire State College, Center for Distance Learning and International Programs. Her current research focuses on course and system level structures that support inclusive, transformational learning experiences for all students, especially first generation and underrepresented student populations in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. She is passionate about increasing global access to STEM education for all women, and believes by increasing access to education for women we can enable more communities across the globe to thrive and flourish.

Extended Abstract

This session will provide a forum for all conference participants to engage in a meaningful conversation about ways women innovating in academia; why it is important for their voice to be a part of the conversation and ways women’s ideas can be heard at all levels of the organization.

For well over 20 years researchers and practitioners have been trying to address the barriers women face in the workplace. There have been no shortage of articles written and programs created, yet this continues to be a major issue. Some women are speaking out and discussing their success and what they owe to their success. Other women are sharing their struggles in the workplace related to harassment, Imposter Syndrome (Cohen, 2015), the value of care work, and not having their voice heard. If it from these stories we try to glean nuggets of information that will help us understand what is still needed. Yet these stories only represent a small number of women and we know that “opportunities, and that they hold back because of concerns about how professional positions might affect future life choices” (Ward & Eddy, 2013).

In #3Wedu discussions, we facilitate conversations around identity; gender barriers; mentoring; and empowerment. Before we create a solution such as another program and/or enter an agreement with another vendor we need to truly understand the point of view and “what it is all about?” For this proposal, we want to encourage facilitated group discussions to provide guidance for creating a program and/or strategy that will be used to solve the problem.



What does it mean to be a woman in the age of innovation and digital identity?

What are the strategies women in higher ed need to consider when it comes to being heard in the digital age?

As innovators in the field, what challenges have you encountered when it comes to getting women's voices heard? What strategies were used to overcome those challenges?

How can we, as a group, identify and alleviate the barriers we see for female innovators?



To create a space where women can talk in their authentic voice and share their stories so that we can better understand their needs (what is it they are trying to do or want to do), what they feel, their values. Insights-new learnings about women’s feelings/worldview that can be leveraged in the design of programs for women in higher ed.


At the end of this session participants will be able to:

  • Outline the experiences and pain points of other women

  • Identify the needs, tensions and conflicts are and how to interpret that into a meaningful solution

  • Describe how support models for women might be reimagined

  • Brainstorm possible support model prototypes


Brown, T. (2008). Design thinking. Harvard business review86(6), 84.

Brown, T., & Kātz, B. (2009). Change by design. New York:Harper Business.

Cohen, C. (2015, November 16). Imposter syndrome: Why do so many women feel like frauds. The Telegraph. Retrieved from

Ward, K., & Eddy, P. L. (2013, December 9). Women and academic leadership: Leaning out. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

Young, J. (2015, October 15). The tech talent wars and #WomenInTech. EDUCAUSE Review. Retrieved from