The Arka Tech

Diversity in leadership: Expansion beyond race, gender, age, religion

AMBER QUAID/THE ARKA TECH: Abi Sasore, rehabilitation science major from Dunleer, Ireland, looks at his phone after sorting his beads and Daniel Rivera, geology major from San Diego, California, looks at his beads he separated for his project.

On Sept. 28, Arkansas Tech University Campus Life hosted a Diversifying your Leadership seminar to expose students on “how race, gender, age and religion play a role in socialization and impacts your interactions with others.”

Kara Johnson, coordinator of leadership and service, lead the seminar by having the students grab a collection of beads. Each bead represented a different ethnicity or gender. The students also had to take three cups; each cup represented a type of relationship: professional, personal and community.

Johnson then asked the students a series of questions in which they answered by placing the appropriate bead into the appropriate cup. An example of one of the questions is “My supervisor is?” and the student had to place one bead for ethnicity and one bead for gender into the professional relationship cup.

After all questions were asked for each relationship type, Johnson asked the students to look at the color of the beads in their cups and to visually see through the beads “how diverse their groups were.”

Many students commented that their cups showed that they had groups that tend to be of the same ethnicity and gender as themselves. This limited their exposure to different ethnicities and gender and allowed for misconceptions.

“Faulty generalizations can form negative stereotypes,” Tahmid Shantanu, sociology major from Dhaka, Bangladesh, said.

Johnson continued to have the students look at how they view people of other ethnicity and genders by doing a word association exercise and asking questions about their answers.

Questions like what is a healthy way to deal with a stereotype or have any of you dealt with a supervisor that has dealt with these things negatively?

“When I first moved here I was 17, my supervisor said some negative things towards me,” Daniel Rivera, geology major from San Diego, said, “It made my job stressful.”

Sharing experiences and talking about different situations helped some students see the impact of positive and negative stereotypes and expanding their world beyond those similar to themselves.

For more information on how to diversify your leadership, go online to or visit Kara Johnson in Doc Bryan 233.