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Boosting female students’ confidence to take leadership roles

 

Lecturer Vu Thi Duc
Lecturer Vu Thi Duc

Education & Times Newspaper – After a session about having an active mindset, a student sent a message to Ms Vu Thi Duc, Lecturer, Department of Medicine and Pharmacy, Tay Bac University (TBU) as follows: “Thanks to this session, I recognized that a minor physical disadvantage will not affect my thoughts and mindset. I am now confident in myself and my leadership ability”. This message made her happy for days.

To be a leader, we should cherish ourselves first

“Gender inequality comes from misconceptions about both genders. There are prejudices and stereotypes indicating that women are unable to do some things, but each woman should strive further and overcome these,” Ms Duc usually emphasizes in her talk to female students. 

The session about active mindset is one of 10 training sessions in Ms Duc’ s project to strengthen leadership skills for key female students at Tay Bac University. The project is one of her achievements thanks to the Australia Awards Short Course – Women in Leadership Journey. In this project, Ms Duc selected 28 female students and provided them with training sessions applying knowledge and skills she has learnt from Australian experts, such as: personal development skills, confidence building, self-respect, active mindset, leadership skills, presentation and planning skills, etc. 

Since most female students are ethnic minority persons who lack confidence and are perpetuated with many gender stereotypes, in the first sessions, Ms Duc helped them to renew themselves with an active mindset. 

“In my project to enhance students’ leadership skills, the first few sessions focus only on ‘listening thoughts’ and feelings of each participant. This was the biggest surprise to me at the Women in Leadership Journey facilitated by Flinders University,” said Ms Duc explaining the structure of her project. 

Thanks to the course, she had a better understanding of herself, her power, capacity, and how to utilize her inner strength, then to set directions and objectives. This approach leads people to change their mindset first, then build necessary skills. Ms Duc highly agreed with this approach and applied it directly in the training sessions for students. 

Ms Duc still remembers each sharing of the students at the training sessions. In the discussion about cherishing ourselves, one student said that she always lacked confidence because of a scar on her thigh which makes her thighs uneven. After the course, she understands that this minor shortcoming will not affect her mind and thoughts. In addition, there was a student who did not dare to look at others because of an eye defect. After receiving Ms. Duc’ s encouragement and listening to other participants, she is now more willing to talk to people. 

For Ms Duc, the biggest success is that the students have an active mindset and strong confidence. After each session, they posted their status on their Facebook page, sharing their feelings and changes. In the past, classes usually do not have specific activity plans and did not connect their activities. After the course, these students discussed with each other and successfully organized talks for students. 

Through these trainings, the selected students now understand that leadership is not about a position but inspiring others and encouraging them to act together. The most important thing is understanding ourselves, then understanding others. This approach helps the leader to lead people and get their support. After the course provided by Ms Duc, these female students have totally changed the way they lead their classes. 

Training course on leadership skills for 28 female students
Training course on leadership skills for 28 female students

Strive to be a female leader

As Chairperson of Beautiful Lifestyle Club, Tay Bac University, Ms Duc actively participates in many activities. She admitted that sometimes she lacked confidence in herself, because she thought women should not express their opinions. 

However, after the Australia Awards Short Course – Women in Leadership Journey, she changed her mind. She confidently gives her opinion if something is inappropriate; she thinks quickly of solutions when a difficulty occurs, she is willing to speak for women, listens to women first, and encourages other women to share their opinions. At the Party Cell Ceremony of her faculty, Ms Duc emphasized in her speech that the Party Cell should prioritize a women’s empowerment campaign and encourage other women to believe in themselves. 

“I will rearrange my personal tasks and review my expectations. In the past, I never thought that I would strive to be leader. However, now I think I shall become involved in leadership roles to realize my ideas. I need time to grow from my current position and activities. To be appreciated by others, we should be confident in showing our capacity first,” Ms Duc said confidently while being asked about her future personal plan. 

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Vu Thi Duc

In the future, I am looking forward to establishing a Support Centre for female students which creates a favourable environment to strengthen skills, to share feelings with psychology experts, to support them overcome difficulties and barriers and to show their personal strengths. Next year, I will select another group of female students to help them change their mindset into an active one and to strengthen their leadership skills,said Ms. Vu Thi Duc.

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Source: Translation of an article on Education and Times Newspaper