• Research and Action Summer 2016
    NEWS

    Read Our Newest Research and Action Report

    Spring/Summer 2016

    Read about our new and ongoing work in the latest edition of our Research and Action Report, featuring policy recommendations for the next U.S. president and a commentary by Jennifer Grossman, Ph.D.

    Read the Report Online>>
  • Women's Review of Books
    NEWS

    July/August Women's Review of Books Available Now

    July/August 2016

    The newest issue of Women's Review of Books features Rebecca Steinitz's rewiew of Women in Dark Times by Jacqueline Rose, along with many other book reviews. Purchase the entire issue, or read select sections online for free.

    Learn More>>
  • Getting to the Heart of Learning
    NEWS

    Getting to the Heart of Learning

    Open Circle, a program of the Wellesley Centers for Women, provides a unique, evidence-based social and emotional learning program for elementary schools from Kindergarten through Grade 5.

    Catch up with Open Circle>>
  • Lunchtime Seminar Podcast Series
    AUDIO

    Lunchtime Seminar Podcast Series

    This spring, experts presented research and lead discussions on a range of topics from health care and youth development to mental health and relationship building. The series wrapped up on May 19, but you can listen to the audio online anytime.

    Listen to the Experts>>
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Research & Action Report, Spring/Summer 2016

By Jennifer Grossman Ph.D.

Think about it—in many of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, there was little family conversation about sex. Often, for religious and cultural reasons, family communication about sex was considered taboo. Many teens did not know what sex was or how to protect themselves from pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This has changed in many families, as cultural expectations have shifted and there is growing recognition that teenparent sexuality communication can protect teens from early pregnancy and STIs. Many parents also have reflected on the potentially harmful effects that ignorance about sexuality had on their own teenage years and lived experiences. Parents now often commit to talking with their children about sex, breaking from traditions of family silence from past generations, as a way to support their children’s healthy development.

Let’s Talk about #Sex by Jennifer Grossman, Ph.D.

Think about it—in many of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, there was little family conversation about sex. Often, for religious and cultural reasons, family communication about sex was considered taboo. Many teens did not know what sex was or how to protect themselves from pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This has changed in many families, as cultural expectations have shifted and there is growing recognition that teenparent sexuality communication can protect teens from early pregnancy and STIs. Many parents also have reflected on the potentially harmful effects that ignorance about sexuality had on their own teenage years and lived experiences. Parents now often commit to talking with their children about sex, breaking from traditions of family silence from past generations, as a way to support their children’s healthy development.

by Ellen Gannett, M.Ed. and Elizabeth Starr, M.Ed., National Institute on Out-of-School Time


Quality Out-of-School Time Begins with Investment in Staff

As expectations for high-quality afterschool and outof-school time (OST) programs continue to rise, a skilled, stable and committed OST workforce is critically important. Yet supports for youth workers, and resulting staff quality, remain uneven at best due in part to a highly fragmented landscape. Compensation remains stagnant and opportunities for professional advancement and public recognition remain practically non-existent.

The March April 2016 issue of Women’s Review of Books (WRB) was quite different from the publication’s usual offering. Amy Hoffman, M.F.A., editor-in-chief, included a special section featuring WRB writers and some other favorite feminists sharing recommendations of what they thought the next U.S. president should be reading, in preparation for taking office. Additionally, Cartoon Editor Jennifer Camper illustrated the special section and added brevity with her artwork. The list that resulted is fascinating—and could probably keep even the most well-read person productively busy for the entire next presidential term. But it wasn’t quite what Hoffman expected.

By Tracy R.G. Gladstone, Ph.D., WCW associate director and senior research scientist, director of the Robert S. and Grace W. Stone Primary Prevention Initiatives


Depression is Prevalent but Prevention Programs Are Limited

According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide—it is the most common psychiatric disorder in the U.S., and is particularly common among lower income populations, and among women beginning in adolescence. The average age of onset for depression is 15, and about 20 percent of all people will have experienced an episode of depression by the end of adolescence. Youth depression is associated with a host of negative and long-term consequences, including poorer school performance, difficult peer and family relationships, increased risk of substance abuse, and poorer functional outcomes in adulthood. Of particular note is the connection between youth depression and suicide. Although not all people who commit suicide were depressed at the time, depression and suicidal behavior are indeed linked. Suicide is a tremendous problem in the U.S. and is the second leading cause of death among American adolescents.

Research & Action Report, Fall/Winter 2015

By April Pattavina, Ph.D. and Linda M. Williams, Ph.D.

The Justice and Gender-Based Violence Research Initiative

The Justice and Gender-Based Violence Research Initiative, led by Co-Directors Linda M. Williams, Ph.D., and April Pattavina, Ph.D., senior research scientists, was recently launched at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW). Longtime followers of the Centers may recognize Williams, who was director of research at the Stone Center at WCW from 1996 to 2005. In that role, she led the Navy Family Study, a comprehensive approach to understanding the factors that affect successful and unsuccessful outcomes for Navy families involved with the family advocacy office, as well as the outcomes for adults and children exposed to domestic violence, child physical abuse, or child sexual abuse. Williams co-directed the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center and continued her research on the long-term consequences and memories of child sexual abuse. Pattavina comes to WCW from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, where she collaborated with Williams and colleague Melissa S. Morabito, Ph.D., associate professor, on the national multi-site study of sexual assault case attrition through the criminal justice system that is described in the following interview. She brings an interest in applying advances in information and computer technology to the study of social problems. She has been invited to give presentations and workshops on the use of administrative data for policy analysis and received an award from The Boston Foundation for using data to drive community change.

Research & Action Report, Spring/Summer 2015

By Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D.

Virtual Harassment & Bullying in the College Years

Given the immense public attention on cyber bullying amongst teens and that social media is intricately tied to adolescent daily behavior, it’s not surprising that the vast majority of studies on cyber bullying are conducted on youth under 18. A recent review1 found that the highest incidence of cyber bullying in youth occurs during seventh and eighth grades—incidence that increases from elementary school, but decreases into the high school years. One might predict that since cyber bullying wanes in high school, that in college it would continue to wane. It was only until Pew’s recent study on online harassment in 2014—which demonstrated that the cyber harassment rate in young adults aged 18-24 can reach rates as high as 70 percent—that we can now see that young adulthood deserves more attention, academic inquiry, and public scrutiny.

Research & Action Report,Spring/Summer 2015

By Layli Maparyan, Ph.D.

Remembering Beijing: Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration / Platform for Action and CSW59

This year we commemorate the 20th anniversary of an important milestone in the history of the global women’s movement: The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA). The BPfA was the outcome document of the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women, which took place in Beijing, China, in September, 1995, along with the parallel NGO Forum in Huairou, China. The U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women represented the culmination of two decades of international women’s mobilizations (in Mexico City, Copenhagen, and Nairobi) and announced the formation of a truly global women’s movement. The Beijing/Huairou events were attended by over 50,000 people. Thus, this 20th anniversary is an important time of both celebration and reflection, not only for those who attended the events, but also for all those who care about and work on the issues enshrined in the BPfA.

Research & Action Report, Spring/Summer 2015

Sari Pekkala Kerr, Ph.D., arrived at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) in 2010 as a deeply experienced senior researcher/micro economist. Her expertise and research accomplishments have significantly broadened the Centers’ reach into the economic implications of various government policies and marketplace realities, often with a particular focus on gender. As a micro economist, she typically studies the effects of such policies and realities on the lives of individuals, families, and children. She also brings to her work in the U.S. significant contributions from her continuing research of related issues in Europe, especially her native Finland. As a social democracy, that nation maintains a vast body of demographic statistics that has enabled her to study and quantify effects of various policies on millions of specific individuals. In some of her current work in the U.S., she seeks as far as possible to achieve an analogous breadth of scope.

tinyglobeLayli Maparyan, Ph.D., Katherine Stone Kaufmann ’67 Executive Director of the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) and Professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College, engaged with diverse youth groups in Berlin, Germany in January 2015 to discuss the meaning of Black History Month and how it can cultivate social change leadership, not only in the U.S. but also around the world. Sponsored by the U.S. Embassy Berlin, the week-long tour offered Maparyan the opportunity to deliver a lecture, “Building Cultures of Inclusion Across Race, Ethnicity, and Religion: Comparing Notes Across the U.S. and Germany and Cultivating Social Change Leadership,” and engage in discussions with students and faculty of the John F. Kennedy Institute at the Free University; at University of Stuttgart; and at Freiburg University. Within the framework of the “womanism” praxis, Maparyan outlined non-oppositional problem-solving tools and illustrated how simple, personal acts can create amity and inclusion from the personal all the way up to the institutional level. In Bonn, Maparyan presented “A Womanist Perspective on Development” at the University of Bonn/ZEF, and “Building Cultures of Inclusion across Race, Ethnicity, and Religion: Comparing Notes across the U.S. and Germany and Cultivating Social Change Leadership” at Bonn University. Her trip concluded with Black History Month: A Storytelling Evening at Jugendkirche and a community meeting at the Anne Frank Educational Centre.