Advancing Women’s Leadership Initiative to tackle women’s leadership gap

Friday, February 23, 2018
UNH student stands confidently in UNH Paul College Great Hall

The University of New Hampshire’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics is tackling the women’s leadership gap, thanks to a $1.7 million investment from alumnus J. Morgan Rutman ’84, president of Willoughby Capital Holdings, his wife Tara Rutman, and the Och Family Foundation.

The gift will fund the Rutman/Och Advancing Women’s Leadership Initiative that will focus on educating and supporting 100 high-performing young leaders who are committed to advancing women as business leaders.

“The dearth of women in leadership limits the potential of aspirational, high-performing women and also impacts the performance of business organizations.”

“As the parents of three daughters, Tara and I feel strongly about addressing gender inequality,” Rutman says. “I truly believe the world would be a better place if we could be gender blind. There are still many more men in senior positions than women, despite their entry to the workforce in equal numbers. We’re confident this gift will help reduce some of the barriers that women face and help equip them to become leaders in their fields. We are pleased to support the ongoing work of Paul College Dean Deborah Merrill-Sands to close the gender gap.”

The new initiative will support 100 Rutman Leadership Fellows over the next 10 years with $10,000 scholarships, dedicated advising, mentoring, internship support and programming focused on gender diversity and leadership. In addition to the special programming for the fellows, broader training in implicit bias and gender issues in the workplace will be available to all students.

A view of UNH's campus

Philanthropy Creates Possibilities

To make a gift to endow a fund (such as a scholarship or professorship) or to support a program, contact Troy Finn, associate vice president of development, at (603) 862-4940 or

Today, women hold only 4 percent of the CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies, 25 percent of senior management positions, and 17 percent of board seats. Similarly, the representation of women in business and economics education nationally and at Paul College has remained at or below 40 percent.

“The dearth of women in leadership limits the potential of aspirational, high-performing women and also impacts the performance of business organizations,” says Merrill-Sands, a nationally renowned expert on women and leadership and gender dynamics in the workplace. “The values of equity of opportunity and organizational excellence are mutually reinforcing. Numerous studies since 2000 have shown a significant positive correlation between the level of women’s representation in leadership roles and organizational performance.”

According to Merrill-Sands, this new program will help Paul College play a significant role in advancing the participation of women in leadership and business education.

“The end goal is to educate and graduate more women and men who value gender diversity and have the aspirations, knowledge, skills and opportunities needed to pursue successful and meaningful careers, ascend into leadership roles in their organizations, and promote women’s leadership in their workplaces,” says Merrill-Sands.

Jeremy Gasowski | UNH Marketing | | 603-862-4465