Our Purpose | Pepperdine University

Our Purpose

A woman speaks into a microphone at a podium - Pepperdine University

The purpose of the Pepperdine Center for Women in Leadership is to strengthen the leadership capacity of our women students, staff, and faculty, so they can fill the leadership gap internally and in the external environment of organizations and communities worldwide.

Our primary goals are:

  1. to prepare women for successful careers in the marketplace, where they can embrace lives of purpose, service, and exceptional leadership.
  2. to establish Pepperdine as a university of choice for students and staff, while continually engaging with alumni to enable them to feel competent, confident, and ready to lead.
  3. to advance research and engage faculty to broaden the global dialogue on gender- and diversity-related issues.

Why is this so important?

Women make up approximately half of the labor force in most countries today. At the same time, there is a significant drop in numbers as we advance toward positions of greater influence:

Worldwide, only 24% of women are in senior management.

19% of women become partners in large law firms.

Of all U.S. Fortune 500 CEOs, just 4.6% are women.

A recent KPMG study found that 86% of women recall being taught to be nice to others growing up, while only 34% were taught to share a point of view, and a full three-quarters (76%) of women wish they had learned more about leadership and had more leadership opportunities while growing up.

Why act now?

More women are entering college and graduate programs.

A female student graduated from GSBM - Pepperdine University

The good news is, we have an extraordinary opportunity to make a difference in the world of women right now, starting with higher education.

Current statistics indicate that in the developed world, 60% of college graduates are women. Overall, women account for 60% of master's degrees, and 52% of doctorates awarded in the U.S. It's time to tap into this crowd of future leaders.

Women feel less prepared for a career and experience lower morale.

Findings from the 2014 College Senior Survey conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute suggest 65% of women senior students who anticipate working full time do not consider their preparedness for employment as a major strength. Moreover, the report points out the critical role staff and faculty play as mentors in the development of students.

A woman sits on a chair and speaks with a colleague - Pepperdine University

At Pepperdine, women are uniquely energized by their purpose and excited to achieve in ways that benefit the greater good. At the Center for Women in Leadership, we work to close the confidence gap through programs outside the classroom, like mentorship and skills development. We're reaching out to women at Pepperdine, as well as women leaders in the workforce so that our students, faculty, and staff can develop their potential and learn to lead in action.

Relationship workers are the new MVPs.

Knowledge is no longer enough to lead. Today's great leaders need relational skills.

Dr. Bernice Ledbetter, Director of the Pepperdine Center for Women in Leadership, teaches leadership and ethics as an Organizational Theory and Management faculty member at the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School. She notes that successful leaders need emotional intelligence, sensitivity, and superior interpersonal skills to harvest the best ideas from their people. And studies show that women in leadership positions are also more likely to stay with their organizations.


Dr. Bernice Ledbetter, Director of the Pepperdine Center for Women in Leadership

"The capacity to build strong, productive relationships at work matters to success. ...This is a great time to be a woman in leadership because this shift taps into our strengths."

Dr. Bernice Ledbetter

Director of the Pepperdine Center for Women in Leadership