Yael Grushka Cockayne / Darden

It is a huge honor for me to represent the Darden School as a member of the Mead Honored Faculty for the 2012/2013 academic year.  To be acknowledged for my out-of-class engagement with the students, in an environment where almost everyone goes well beyond their formal role, is incredibly special to me. Receiving this honor has reminded me how fortunate I am to be working in an institution that encourages and commends such behavior.

My dream idea is to take three students to join me and attend the TEDxWomen 2012 events. These events take place on Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 1, 2012 in Washington, D.C. Together, we will be inspired by listening to and sharing personal stories and conversations, hearing from women and men across different disciplines and backgrounds.

There are two motivations for my dream idea:

The first. In August of last year, I was honored by a recent MBA graduate who selected me to receive the Morton Leadership Faculty award. In her letter explaining her selection, my student talked about my engagement — listening, observing, being in the moment, and connecting with people — that impressed her. She spoke of my ability to “make the space for asking the right questions” and “listen to whatever answer was given.”

I believe it is the choices I make in that physical, cognitive and emotional space that will determine successasI engage thosearoundme,  whenprogressing my research, teaching, and in my personal life.

The theme of the 2012 TEDxWomen events is The Space Between.

The second. Since I arrived at Darden in 2009, I have been passionate about advancing the involvement, the confidence and ultimately the success of my female students. I do this, not only as I am a female assistant professor, at what might be considered “the start of my career”, but also due to my fundamental belief in the power of diversity. Scott Page, a professor from the University of Michigan, an expert on diversity, tells us in his best-seller The Difference: “Diverse perspectives—seeing the world differently, seeing the brush as a forest of pins— provided the seeds of innovation” (p.25).  In my academic research papers, I use mathematics and game theory to show how and when we benefit from diverse opinions. In practice, I believe that we need more women succeeding in business, we need more diversity.

In the classroom and outside, I have engaged the MBA students in the conversation and questioned them as to how we can change the statistics (e.g. 18 women CEOs among the Fortune 500 companies). How can we promote the success of the women MBAs? From these interactions, I sense that our female MBA students, and more broadly, female students in all STEM   areas, are in need of good role models, individuals who embrace and encourage diversity, while recognizing some key challenges.  Whether   we believe that “Women Still Can’t Have It All” 1 or perhaps they can, it is through the personal stories of role models that we learn to carve our own.

The 2012 TEDxWomen events, through both speakers and the audience, will provide access to such role models sharing their personal stories. Since it began, in 2010, the TEDxWomen events have connected people around the world and showcased talks by some well, and less well, known individuals.    In parallel to the main events, more than 100 self-organized TEDx events connected to the main TEDxWomen conference enabled the live participation of over 10,000 people.

Thus, my dream idea is to take three students to join me and attend the TEDxWomen 2012 events. To select this small group of students, I will ask those interested to submit to me their proposal for a short TED talk.  This proposal may be in any form of media, but similar to the TEDxWomen 2012 organizers, I will encourage the submission of a short filmed talk. The topics of their proposal will need to relate (freely) to The Space Between and the promotion of women and diversity in business.  I will then ask all submitters to vote on the three best submissions and ask the top three to join me on the trip. This selection will be done during the Fall semester of 2012.

In order to engage in the broader group of applicants, I will complement this selection process with two social events. The first, a pre-selection event, will be held at a local Charlottesville venue and will give the group and opportunity to get to know each other and discuss out own ideas with each other. The second, a post-

TEDx event will be held at my house and will allow the participants to share their experience with the others.   I will also make use of social media (Facebook and Twitter) to interact with the group and have our thoughts shared more broadly with others in Darden and UVa.

In addition to participating as part of the live audience in the event, I am currently in the process of applying to be considered   as a TEDxWomen speaker. Either by me, or jointly with the students (this is to be determined by the event organizers); the challenge of delivering a TED talk is huge. Whether we get to deliver a formal talk or not, I see this experience as a career and life-altering opportunity for the students and myself.

The funds will be used towards travel and board in Washington, D.C and attendance fee for the conference (TBD). In addition, for those submitting proposals, I offer them a chance to film themselves and will use the funds towards media and editing fees.  Budget break out is as follows:

TEDxWomen Tickets: 4 x $250 = $1000

Travel and board in Washington, D.C: $800. Pre- and post- TEDx event gatherings: $400. Media and editing fees: $500

For more information see:     http://tedxwomen.org/2012/06/14/announcing- tedxwomen-2012/