Women overcome obstacles at UH
Myra Conley, UH alumnus and assistant dean of students, has seen change up close at UH.
Conley arrived on the campus as a student in the ’70s, not long after the reign of Lynn Eusan, UH’s first African-American homecoming queen.
African-American women have transitioned from being students, to faculty, and even holding the highest office of university president.
‘Historically, higher education has been dominated by white males’, Conley said. ‘Although our population of African-American faculty is small, it has improved from when I was a student here.’
Conley said when she was a student, most of the African- American faculty were in the African-American Studies Department, but now UH is more diverse.’
Although the ’70s and ’80s was a time when many African-American women experienced racism and limitations, Conley said for her, that was not the case.
‘I’ve always had opportunities to move up, I never really experienced a glass ceiling,’ she said.
A glass ceiling is the unofficial, invisible barrier that prevents women and minorities from advancing in businesses dominated by white men.
Marguerite Ross Barnett was the first African-American female president of UH who served from 1990 to 1992. Her life was cut short when she lost a battle to cancer at age 49.
As UH faculty, Conley had the opportunity to work under the leadership of Barnett.
‘I was excited.’ Conley said. ‘I feel her presidency here was timely and she was well qualified for the position.’
Conley said that she is proud of the progress that African-American women have made and are continuing to make at UH and all around the world.
‘UH is a great place to be because there is so much diversity and the differences of people are acknowledged, embraced, and celebrated here,’ she said. ‘They are buckling down, overcoming obstacles, stepping out of their environments and making things happen for themselves.’
Kimberly Jones is a communication senior and may be reached at [email protected].