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Student Life

My Journey Organizing the Women in Leadership Conference

by Dildora Ahmedova ’23, Forté Fellow

Women in Leadership Conference 2023 Committee
WILC 2023 Student Leaders and Planning Committee

Originally posted in the Rundown in the Rice Business Magazine.

I attended my first Women in Leadership Conference (WILC) four years ago as a working professional. The next year, I submitted my MBA application to Rice Business with the goal, if admitted, to help organize WILC and inspire the next generation of female leaders.

Dildora Ahmedova, Professional MBA Class of 2023
Dildora Ahmedova, Full-Time MBA Class of 2023

I was admitted to the Rice (Business) MBA program as a Forté Fellow in 2021 and immediately joined the executive committee for WILC 2023, tasked with marketing the conference. I organized panels and collaborated with a team of strong student leaders. Forté Foundation CEO Elissa Sangster gave the kickoff keynote speech and underscored the work that remains regarding pay gaps and gender disparities in executive roles.

What resonated with me most was Sangster’s call for us to all become vocal allies, mentors and sponsors. Advocating for women within an organization creates a culture of inclusion and equality. Women bring unique perspectives to the workplace and contribute to better decision making, which drives innovation and growth. Equal gender representation in leadership roles is critical for organizations to be competitive in the business world. Society has made progress in promoting diversity and bringing women to leadership positions, but women remain significantly underrepresented in the C-suite due to lack of advancement opportunities and the “broken rung” obstacle at the first step to management. 

Being part of the planning committee for WILC 2023 has been a highlight of my MBA experience at Rice Business. This year’s theme of “Every Woman, Every Voice” highlighted the importance of sponsorship, mentorship and allyship as critical components for equality and equity in leadership. WILC 2023 sold out and achieved record attendance, surpassing more than 500 in-person attendees. The event provided a valuable opportunity to connect, build relationships, learn new skills and strategize competencies to succeed in leadership roles. Most importantly, the conference empowered its participants — including me — to aspire to greater heights in their careers and to inspire the next generation of women in leadership.

Learn more about the Women in Leadership Conference.

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