A conference series for ambitious women in higher education

Let's lift women HIGHER

Founded by Wisr, HIGHER is a series of professional development conferences and webinars designed to create space for conversations and connections that empower women in higher education to push through barriers to reaching their career goals and to pull other women up along the way.

Presidents at US colleges and universities

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    All women
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    Women of color
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HIGHER equips hundreds of women in higher education with the resources and relationships to reach senior leadership positions.

If you are eager to expand your local and national network of women in higher education, are questioning whether you want to build a career in higher education, or could simply use a burst of inspiration, HIGHER is for you.

What to expect

Join the national movement of women in higher education by participating in the unique, attendee-guided programming at HIGHER. Regardless of when you attend, you'll walk away with a strong network of supportive women (and potential mentors!) in your field, increased clarity on the strengths and expertise you currently bring to your role, and a plan for how to take the next step in your career.

Our day together is divided into 3 main sections:

Coupling space for individual reflection with structured partner sharing, this workshop will have you identifying the values, strengths, and interests driving your career. Gain insights about what types of environments you thrive in, share stories with fellow attendees, and define what success looks and feels like to you.


Hear from 3 women leaders on what they’ve learned about navigating careers in higher ed. How have they cultivated their own unique leadership styles? What advice would they give to their younger selves? Learn what these outstanding women think the next generation of higher ed leaders needs to know.


Take professional development into your own hands by writing your ideal future performance review, receive flash mentorship on a specific area you’d like to develop, such as negotiating a raise or expanded scope of work, and leave with a concrete action plan for reaching your next professional goal.









Register for a HIGHER session

Earlier this year, we hosted events on COVID 2.0 - Now What? Casting a Vision in the Midst of a Pandemic, Women of Color in Education: Creating Spaces for Women of Color to Thrive, and Getting to the C-Suite: Positioning Yourself for Success in Student Affairs.

Webinars and workshops are available through our partner The Flora Stone Mather Center for Women at Case Western Reserve University. Explore their website for dates and topics, such as positioning yourself for success in academic affairs, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and negotiation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Explore the answers to some of our frequently asked questions and if you still have additional questions that we haven't answered, email us!

Each HIGHER conference brings together women who work at nearby institutions of higher learning. We welcome women in faculty and staff positions across all higher education areas and levels to join in this close-knit professional development experience. In 2019 already, more than 1,000 women from 300+ institutions attended HIGHER in cities across the US. While a majority of 2019 attendees were Dean or Director-level, attendees more junior in their careers also found the conference highly beneficial for better understanding various career paths in higher education and connecting with similarly ambitious peers. Wisr welcomes participants of diverse backgrounds, including those of diverse gender identities. We are committed to championing the careers and personal wellbeing of all women, including cisgender and transgender individuals. When we use the term “women” it is wholeheartedly inclusive of transgender women.

The conference and webinars will cover issues affecting women’s opportunity for advancement in higher education, including negotiation skills, bias and discrimination, pay equity, mentorship and sponsorship, networking, confidence and imposter syndrome, and more. The program is not designed as a lecture. Rather, sessions are highly interactive, allowing attendees to guide the conversation.

The agenda for HIGHER is always the same. At each event, we aim for 3 women who are part of the local higher ed community and are VP-level or above in their respective fields. There is typically representation from both the tenure-track/faculty path and the administrative/staff path. We strive to find speakers who represent the diversity of our community. Some past speakers include Maria Anguiano (Senior Vice President for Strategy at Arizona State University), Alfreda
Brown (Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Kent State University), Devika Dibya
Choudhuri (Professor; Chair of the Commission on Diversity & Inclusion at Eastern Michigan University), and more. The INSPIRE sessions are always attendees’ favorite part of the day – trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

Absolutely yes. While HIGHER is organized around the larger umbrella of women in higher education, attendees are encouraged to share their unique intersectional perspectives. This is an opportunity to inform, listen, and learn from one another, even if our experiences may differ.

Allow us to introduce ourselves! Wisr is an education technology company based in Cleveland, Ohio. As a (female-led) company, we’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on how technology can democratize access to opportunity. It’s why Kate Volzer, our founder, feels so passionate about the potential for Wisr to support the academic and professional careers of first-gen, under-represented, and military students. It’s also why, when we learned more about the lack of representation of women in senior leadership positions in higher education, we felt compelled to do something about it. In January 2019, we launched the HIGHER series in 23 cities across the US. The goal was to impact the careers of 500 women. We were amazed and inspired by the thousands of women who wanted to join the movement. Our role at each conference is not to tell you how to fix the problems in higher education. Rather, we work to create space for women to come together to share lessons learned and strategies with each other. As part of our commitment to women in higher education, we also created the HIGHER Network, the largest digital community of women in higher education. All attendees have access to join the network to share resources, seek mentorship, and expand their national networks. In 2020 we formed a partnership with the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women at Case Western University. While we will still be involved with HIGHER, they will be spearheading the events moving forward.

What participants are saying

Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor

“The Wisr Leadership Summit was an excellent way to meet other women in higher education… We were able to brainstorm solutions together and left feeling so empowered! Three of our women leaders came as individuals and left as a team.”

Executive Director of Alumni Relations

“It was refreshing and inspiring to spend the day with a group of smart, strong women on similar paths. The conversations were relevant and helpful. I feel stronger knowing that I found my group and look forward to keeping in touch with everyone.”

Director of Corporate Relations

“There was space to be authentic about the challenges we were facing and how others had overcome those challenges. I was with women who were already education leaders. It reminded me there is hope for the future if we work together."



Related EAB resources

5 steps to improve your pipeline of women leaders, according to 57 female CEOs

Strong professional networks, a background in STEM, and sponsorship support may help women advance to leadership positions, study finds.

9 female presidents: Here’s the
biggest challenge
I’ve faced

The Chronicle of Higher Education asked nine current and former college presidents about the biggest challenges they have faced as a female leader.

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