Advancing in the workplace is often difficult, but it's even harder if you're a woman, says Lucille Stoddard, acting president of Utah Valley Community College.

Speaking to a group of working women in a "Today's Women" conference at the Provo Excelsior Hotel, Stoddard addressed the topic "Advancing in the Workplace.""I feel like I'm coming in on crutches with this topic," she said, alluding to the recent announcement that a male has been selected as the new UVCC president. In addition to her duties as academic vice president, she has been acting president since the resignation of former President J. Marvin Higbee.

Stoddard spoke of the fine line, a tightrope of sorts, that women must walk as they prepare to advance into middle and upper management. She told women to become educated and to continue to build their talents and capitalize on their skills and knowledge.

"Know who you are and try to be your best," she said. "Follow what you love, but be sure you know what you love."

Stoddard said that earlier in life she realized she wasn't happy with her job or where her career was taking her. She said many women are in the same situation.

"The turning point came for me when I was working at a certain job and by Wednesday I was thinking, `I have only two more days before the end of the week.' At that point I quit and went to college."

If a woman really wants to advance she must be ready for a number of changes, Stoddard said.

"She must be willing to travel, go to work early and stay late, learn that she has little privacy and is subjected to scrutiny, and that she must separate her family from her work."

Conferencegoers were told to develop a sense of humor."We have to learn to maintain a sense of humor and see the irony in life," she said. "I could not work without humor, and some of the people we work with are humorless."

She told women to keep developing strong resumes and to have an internal resume and an external resume. "Women must develop a strong internal sense," she said.

Stoddard said women have a tough time advancing in the workplace. "They are expected to take risks, but be outstanding. Be tough, but not macho. Be ambitious, but don't expect equal treatment. Take responsibility, but take others' advice. Be outstanding, but don't expect the same rewards as men."

Many women are, by necessity or choice, returning to the workplace after raising their families. It is a difficult time for them and they face many challenges, she said. But they have developed many skills that make them management material.

"Women who have managed homes are excellent organizers, managers and negotiators," she said.

It isn't easy walking that tight line. Women must take initiative and work hard, and they will find success, she said.