Margaret Thompson - Faculty Profile
Spring 2018 | By Brionna Pinkney
Women continue to break the glass ceiling as leaders in business, and Dr. Margaret Thompson, professor of management, knows a thing or two about that.
Since joining Clayton State in 2004, Thompson has seen the Human Resource Leadership program that she spent 10 years developing, rank as one of the top 10 master's programs in the nation.
And, she's been able to find several platforms to advocate for the equality of women in the work place, an ongoing passion of hers, including her Women in Leadership course.
"I recognized it as something that our women on campus needed. 70 percent or so of our students at the time were women and a lot were first generation college students," Thompson says. "I felt like there was a disconnect between what was possible for these women and what they could see at the time. By the end of the course, I hope that the students can understand some of the challenges women have in the workplace and how they can be successful."
Launched in 2006, the course was an immediate hit among students, as it touched on issues related to gender equity in the workplace. In addition to exploring ways to maximize a woman’s potential in society, the course has served as an opportunity to discuss issues surrounding sexual harassment at the workplace.
Thompson recalls feeling silenced as a woman in the workplace and has experienced instances of sexual harassment.
"There a lot of things that happen that are painful and confusing and meant to keep you quiet, but that's not what you have to do," she states. "And that's where the Women in Leadership course comes from. Giving women a safe space to talk about some of those things is important. I do encourage men to take the class as well. I call them the smartest men on campus."
Thompson’s own journey into business has been an unlikely one.
She comes from a highly artistic family. Her father was a music professor, her mother was a visual artist, and a grandmother was an accomplished writer.
"Music and art was always valued in my family," she says.
Following in the footsteps of her family, Thompson took up an interest in theater as a young child.
"I had two younger brothers and I would get them to be in plays with me, " she says. "I would direct plays and we would all play dress up. It was a lot of fun."
After briefly pursuing theatre at Mississippi State University, Thompson decided to graduate with a degree in communication arts.
She eventually earned a master’s in organizational communication and a Ph.D. in human resource development, while teaching at Clark Atlanta University.
She also worked as an independent consultant for several businesses, including Equifax and UPS.
"I always had a leg in academia and a leg in corporations," she says.
Having taught in the College of Business for the past 13 years, Thompson has no plans of stopping any time soon.
"Clayton State is a good fit for me because we have a very diverse group of students," she says. "It's not just one demographic and I'm very comfortable in that kind of environment. I feel like I can honestly, actively and intentionally make conversations around that diversity that can be helpful."