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Women In Leadership At UCI Promotes Empowerment Among Women

By Ryan Mikeala Nguyen

Women in Leadership, an organization at UCI dedicated to providing more opportunities for women pursuing leadership careers in business, finance, healthcare, and public health, was established by Amy Hu in 2015. Hu’s  goal was to connect and promote leadership opportunities among women, however anyone is welcome.

Women in Leadership exists at UCI as a way to combat the disparity between men and women’s success rates in higher management. According to a 2018 survey taken by the Pew Research Center, only 4.8 percent of the  Chief Executive Officer (CEO) positions in “major businesses” are women.

In their findings, the Pew Research Center noted,“The share of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies reached an all-time high of 6.4% in 2017, with 32 women heading major firms. But the share fell to 4.8 percent in 2018 after several high-profile women left their posts.”

Women in Leadership’s current President Irene Barragan, a fourth-year business economics and public health policy student, recognizes the stark incongruity between males and females in career fields; the disparity inspired her to lead the organizationand help promote success among women by providing an atmosphere of warmth, acceptance, and encouragement to its members.


Barragan believes motivating others to believe in themselves and having a strong support system is key to encouraging women to advance towards their passions, even in the face of obstacles.

“[The Women in Leadership] hopes to create an environment that welcomes everybody. It helps [everyone] to be professional and encourages them to be empowered,” Barragan said. “Women in the workforce right now are not as represented as men, so we just want to show that they can be empowered and that [women] can be leaders as well.”
The organization meets once a week to engage in discourse that encourages women to pursue their passions. The meeting space also serves as an opportunity for members to network or reach out and establish those opportunities.

Because of the variety of majors within the group, members are able to gain insight into different career fields thereby expanding on their potential career endeavours.  

Other events like the Fall Mixer, also hosted by Women in Leadership, allows mentors and mentees to meet up and discuss opportunities.

In addition to professional workshops, the organization also offers two mentorship programs: Peer Mentorship and MBA mentorship. Peer mentors are undergraduate students from varying majors. Alternatively, the MBA program pairs members with mentors from the MBA program at UCI.


Students like Shayla Huynh, a second-year business administration major, found the program beneficial to optimizing career choice prospects.

“I was part of Women in Leadership last year and I did a peer one, so my mentor was someone who also went to the school and I ended getting really close to her,” said Huynh, later adding that the reason she decided to do the mentorship program again this year was because she, “wanted an MBA mentor,” and “wanted to do more on the professional perspective side.” Huynh said the mentorship program was useful in that, “It is helpful to have someone who is in a different part in life.”

The MBA mentorship aims to pair mentees with mentors in their same interest field.  Mentors not only provide career advice but also support their mentees by connecting them with internship opportunities.

Second-year business major, Alice Wang, a previous mentee, was so impacted by the guidance provided from her mentor regarding resume work, LinkedIn, and internship opportunities that she applied to be a mentor herself.

“I signed up as a mentor just because I wanted to help someone who was in the same position as me, and be able to develop professionally or personally,” says Wang. “I just think that would be a really cool thing to do and that’s what this program is about.”
If interested in Women in Leadership at UCI, visit for more information.

Upcoming events for this quarter include “Being a 21st Century Women Entrepreneur,” “Happiness 101,” “Rising Leader Winter Mixer,” and “Let’s Curate Your Career.”