On Wednesday, March 23 recently appointed Chief Diversity Officer Jeanine Bias spoke during the virtual speaker series recognizing Women’s History Month.
“Diversity is data,” Chief Diversity Officer Jeanine Bias stated. “Diversity is really about who’s in the place in the space.”
During her virtual event, Bias discussed her experience earning a bachelor’s degree in political science at Sam Houston State University and later an Executive Master of Public Administration from Texas Southern University.
“Growing up, my primary identity was always seeing myself as being black, and not so much as being a woman,” Bias said. Being raised primarily by men, Bias interpreted herself receiving many masculine traits, in attitude and in clothing style.
As the first woman born in her family, initially her name was decided to be James Roy, named after her two grandfathers: with the intention of fooling a potential interviewer with the initials J.R.
“All of the lessons that I learned really through all of elementary school, all of high school were really more lessons on being independent,” Bias explains.
Bias thought that tasks her mother did were not uplifting, due to having more male role models through her dad and uncles. That view did not change until she attended college, where she met many of the women who inspired her.
“I started to learn that empowered women really empower other women,” Bias said.
These included her great aunt Irene, a former teacher and superintendent who had a school named after her according to Bias.
“I remember as a college student having a conversation with her and she said that your choices are limitless; you are only limited by your own fears,” Bias said.
Joining a sorority at Sam Houston State, she met many of the women she considers family.
“I’m hoping regardless of who you are: women, men, however you identify that you have those people in your circle and in your life that truly empower you and push you forward,” Bias said. “If you have on a crown, if you are not confident, if you don’t stand in who you are, if you dip your chin just a little bit, then that crown falls off.”