By Andrew Levack, M.P.H.Working with Boys and Men to Promote Gender Equality
Every day I look at the bookshelf next to my desk which displays one my favorite bumper stickers. Its slogan, developed by the Wellesley Centers for Women, states that “a world that is good for women is good for everyone.” As someone who helps develop, implement, and evaluate prevention programs that work with young men, l couldn’t agree more. When we challenge sexism and disrupt patriarchy, everyone benefits—including boys and men.
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.
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.
Monica Driggers, research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women, has been working on court and criminal justice reform for nearly a decade. Driggers joined the team working on the Battered Mothers’ Testimony Project in 2002 and was one of the authors of its ground-breaking report released that year. She continues to advocate for the reforms proposed in the report. Her current projects include research and reform of parole processes in Massachusetts and an investigation of female prisoners’ connections to their children.
Interview with Beatrice Achieng Nas, BSC
Beatrice Achieng Nas, the founder and director of a non-governmental organization in Uganda, is a Community Solutions Program Fellow through the International Research & Exchanges (IREX) Board and a Visiting Scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women for the fall 2013 semester.
By Connie Gunderson, Ph.D.
Trafficking in human beings is the second most lucrative illegal activity worldwide. Human trafficking is an extreme example of social injustice perpetuated by dominant-subordinate attitudes that condone violence, resulting in significant suffering for individuals and harm to societies (Gunderson, 2012). It is a serious human rights violation and a low-risk, high-profit crime that is well hidden, underreported, under-prosecuted, and where trafficked persons experience extreme forms of physical and psychological violence and death.
Wellesley College has joined the U.S. State Department and its sister colleges in presenting the inaugural Women in Public Service Summer Institute on Wellesley’s campus June 11-22, 2012. An integral part of the Women in Public Service Project, the pilot institute is a first-of-its-kind, two-week program that is training the next generation of women leaders.
Interview by Susan Lowry Rardin
A lawyer armed with the law in the form of three UN Human Rights Conventions, Rangita de Silva-de Alwis, S.J.D. seeks to amplify women’s efforts on behalf of equality and justice. One of her recent leadership events, organized with Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior, was the “Rabat Roundtable: Women Leading Change in the Arab and Muslim Communities,” which was held late in the 2011 Arab Spring and involved women leaders from the Middle East/North Africa region. Her strategies, which focus especially on Asia and the Muslim/Arab communities, feature the building of networks of women’s organizations and the linking of interest groups—especially through the power of those international human rights Conventions, as she describes in this interview.
An organization’s theory of change helps explain the process by which that organization’s activities contribute to desired outcomes. At WCW, we operate with a shared understanding that research, theory, and action all make vital contributions to the social-change process. High-quality research provides data about what is, tests theories about why, and evaluates what works, allowing us to see beyond opinion, to raise awareness about important issues, and make better investments in policies, programs, and practices that are effective. When change makers, decision makers, and opinion leaders are informed by rigorous research, their initiatives are more likely to be successful.
In late October, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, the Wellesley Centers for Women, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and ETR announced new findings published in the Journal of School Health that show Planned Parenthood’s middle-school curriculum, Get Real: Comprehensive Sex Education That Works, helps kids wait until they are older to have sex. It is particularly effective for boys.
Sumru Erkut, Ph.D., is a senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women; she served as an Associate Director from 1995 to 2014. Her research has encompassed variations in the course of child and adult development, women and leadership, and educational program evaluation both in the U.S. and abroad.
Jondou Chase Chen, Ph.D. is an associate director of The National SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum. Chen has been a SEED leader since 2003 and a SEED summer staff member since 2005. He is an associate in the department of Human Development at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he teaches, advises, and provides research and grant support. He co-facilitates a graduate-level SEED course, as well as a monthly SEED support group for recently trained New York City-area SEED leaders.
In fall 2015, the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) launched the Justice and Gender- Based Violence Research (JGBVR) Initiative to build on its work advancing the role that research plays in improving the lives of women and girls, families and communities. Led by Senior Research Scientist Linda M. Williams, Ph.D., and an interdisciplinary group of collaborators, the JGBVR team conducts and disseminates research that meaningfully addresses the causes and consequences of gender-based violence and the social, health, and justice system responses to violent crime and victimization. To do this work, the initiative builds relationships with partners in the community, the criminal justice system, governmental and non-governmental organizations, international partners, and other researchers and institutes. Nine months later, the team has made great strides in linking its high-quality, gender-informed research with real action to improve the lives of women and girls in all roles of the criminal justice system—victims, offenders, workers, and policymakers.
A Special Women’s Review of Books Feature
Last year, Amy Hoffman, M.F.A., editor-in-chief, Women’s Review of Books (WRB) began thinking about the organizing by Black Lives Matter against police violence and other forms of racist oppression, the intersectional politics of this new movement, and its similarities and differences—in politics and strategies—from previous organizing. She decided to bring together (virtually, through email) a few older and younger Black women activists to talk about their experiences and ideas. A special roundtable discussion with Demita Frazier, J.D., Stacey Patton, Ph.D., Barbara Smith, and Mecca Jamilah Sullivan was featured in the March/April 2017 issue of WRB.
The 58th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW) was held this past winter, but the work continues. After two weeks devoted to the assessment of whether the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are working for women and girls and trying to figure out what the post-2015 development agenda is going to look like, one thing is clear: We aren’t going to make real progress without good data.
Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) maintains a strong legacy of research that can accelerate social change. Building on that, Kates teaches and practices participatory research—which is research that actively involves multiple groups of stakeholders on the issues being examined. Whenever possible, she includes representatives of the low-income women she’s studying.
The Massachusetts Women’s Justice Network mentioned in this interview is comprised of researchers; state legislators and/or their aides; personnel from the Department of Corrections and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security; representatives of the Department of Public Health (which administers the state’s substance abuse services); the Office of Probation and Community Corrections; women’s commissions; women’s shelters; the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other advocacy groups; and formerly incarcerated women.
Wellesley Centers for Women connections grow in Washington, D.C.
Trafficking is one of the hottest topics in the global reform world these days, but it is increasingly unclear what is meant by “trafficking.” It is often hard to know who is trafficked and even more difficult to count these populations. Moreover, simply identifying trafficked victims and traffickers is difficult; for purposes of this article, I will be discussing issues related to women only. A woman may migrate in search of a job and end up doing sex work in exploitative conditions. A migrant may intend to take on one kind of work and find herself in another, or go back and forth between sex work and other forms of work depending on circumstances.
Interview with Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant
Serving as a Visiting Scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women during her sabbatical year from DePauw University, Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant is pursuing her interest in women’s responses to their cultures’ expectations for them. Her current research focus is the lives of the women of the Progressive Era in the U.S. who established settlement houses in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As a side note, she finds it interesting that Harriet Alleyne Rice, Wellesley College’s first African American graduate (1887), spent some time as a medical practitioner at Jane Addams’s Hull-House, Chicago’s first social settlement house.
By Megan Kellett, B.A.
Open Circle, a program of the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. A social and emotional learning (SEL) program for students in Kindergarten through Grade 5, Open Circle is dedicated to providing children with the skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, develop care and concern for others, and handle challenging situations constructively.
Among Nan Stein’s contributions to the literature on sexual harassment and gender violence in schools are the first survey in the country on peer-to-peer sexual harassment in schools (1979-80); her book, Classrooms and Courtrooms: Facing Sexual Harassment in K-12 Schools; and three teaching guides1. Currently, she is working on the third stage of a study, Shifting Boundaries, which evaluates classroom lessons and school-wide interventions in middle schools intended to reduce sexual harassment and precursors to teen dating violence.
When we think about employment and health, we often think about high risk jobs and occupational safety. The recent deaths of first responders in Massachusetts and Texas highlight these serious concerns. However, many workers are exposed to unhealthy conditions that, while not lethal, seriously affect their health.
By Kate Price, M.A.
As a society, we often seem to care more about protecting our cultural ideal of childhood innocence than about meeting the actual needs of real-life children—especially commercially sexually exploited children. To fit the ideal of purity, children require high levels of social capital—preferably, they’re white, middle or upper class, and heterosexual. They have limited or no sexual experience, enjoy secure health care, housing, and education, and they live within a supportive nuclear family. In my experience, children living without access to such resources are too often labeled “bad kids” and blamed for “choosing” to exist outside of this ideal.
Interview by Susan Lowry Rardin
This is a fateful time for the United States. Two distinct visions for the country were pitted against each other in the recent elections. Clearly, women’s rights are still in question; civil rights are seen by some as irrelevant; and the federal budget deficit looms without a consensus as to its importance or how to fix it.
Public policy decisions, which often seem about war and the budget, are, in fact, always about women as well. Though we must focus on “women’s issues,” we must not lose sight of the importance for women of economic and military issues, Supreme Court and other judicial court appointments, and even environmental policies. As the Wellesley Centers for Women motto goes: “A world that is good for women is good for everyone.” - Jean Hardisty, Ph.D.
The current debate on the virtues, definition, and efficacy of expanded learning opportunities (ELO) is familiar and welcome. With over 30 years in the field, I have watched the landscape of the out-of-school time field twist and turn by the decade and I am seeing earlier ideas presented in new terminology. Back in 1982, when the first director of the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST), Michelle Seligson and co-author, James Levine wrote the inaugural School Age Child Care: An Action Manual, their guiding premise was that “solutions are really to be found at the community level, and that they can best be developed by mobilizing people with similar interests to help one another.” The book emphasized a model of service delivery called “the partnership” between schools and other community groups and agencies. While it has taken decades to get here, there is promise in ELO if we can overcome previous barriers.
Wellesley College President H. Kim Bottomly announced on April 23, 2012, the appointment of Layli Maparyan, Ph.D., as the new Katherine Stone Kaufmann ’67 Executive Director of the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), one of the nation’s largest and most influential organizations conducting scholarly research and developing action programs centered on women’s and girls’ perspectives. Maparyan will assume her new responsibilities effective July 1, 2012.
Original research was a key focus at this year’s Intensive Institute held in June by the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute (JBMTI) at the Wellesley Centers for Women. All Institute attendees paticipated in a skills-based workshop, “Creating Connection in a Sea of Disconnection: Research Informed Clinical Practice,” with Mary Tantillo, Ph.D., Jennifer Sanftner, Ph.D., and Renee Spencer, Ed.D. The seminar was based on Spencer’s work on mentoring and on Tantillo’s and Sanftner’s recent article, “Measuring Perceived Mutuality in Women: Further Validation of the Connection-Disconnection Scale,” published in the Journal of Creativity in Mental Health.
In its September 11, 2011, issue, the New York Times Magazine brought together a group of pundits for a roundtable discussion, moderated by reporter Scott Malcolmson, of the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Michael Ignatieff, James Traub, David Rieff, Paul Berman, and Ian Buruma. Scott, Michael, James, David, Paul, and Ian: not a woman—nor a person of color—in the bunch. This particular group had been invited because each had published a significant article previously in the magazine about the issues under discussion—which doesn’t justify the choice; if anything, it makes it worse. Not only were women absent from the magazine’s 9/11 anniversary discussion, but we weren’t included in the debates of the past ten years!
Sari Pekala Kerr, Ph.D., who arrived at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) in 2010, brings not only experience in economic research and consulting in the U.S. to her work at WCW, but also expertise in analyzing economic effects of government policies in her homeland of Finland. That expertise became possible because of Finland’s remarkable record of demographic statistics, which reflect—in a breadth of detail that can amaze many—the experience of three generations of Finns. The Centers expect many of Kerr’s contributions to benefit from that research. Her newest project—supported by the Centers’ 35th Anniversary Fund—will study how maternity leave policies in both Finland and the United States affect women’s subsequent employment.
Research & Action Report, Spring/Summer 2011
by Peggy McIntosh, Ph.D.
U.S. education is in trouble . Many types of school reform have been proposed and tried, but most are not working. They are not creating real solutions to problems. I believe that education reform will continue to falter unless it treats teachers as whole human beings, not as neutral pass-throughs, or as failing parts of machinery. Too often teachers are punished, disrespected, and excluded from conversations on what might actually make education successful for all of our students. What teachers know, what they can contribute, is left out of most efforts to reform education. We cannot change our schools, our systems, without respecting the deep experience of teachers.
Research & Action Report, Spring/Summer 2011 Last year, Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson identified 14 “Turnaround Schools,” described as significantly underperforming and in need of monitoring, support, and reform. Twelve of these schools were also designated by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as “Level 4” schools: those with consistently low scores and no substantial improvement over a four-year period in both English/ Language Arts and Mathematics on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).
Last year, Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson identified 14 “Turnaround Schools,” described as significantly underperforming and in need of monitoring, support, and reform. Twelve of these schools were also designated by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as “Level 4” schools: those with consistently low scores and no substantial improvement over a four-year period in both English/ Language Arts and Mathematics on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).
For many years, research done by the Work, Families, and Children Research Group at Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) has provided policy makers, community leaders, and other scholars with data, commentary, and testimony concerning the effects on family members of many factors, including working conditions, poverty, the division of labor at home, and early care and education. Nancy Marshall, Ed.D., who joined WCW in 1985, now leads the group, which includes Wendy Wagner Robeson, Ed.D., and Joanne Roberts, Ph.D., senior research scientists at WCW.
On October 26, 2010, as this commentary went to press, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” to schools that clarifies the relationship between bullying and discriminating harassment under civil rights laws: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201010.html.
The recent tragic cases of Phoebe Prince and Carl Wal ker -Hoover , two Massachusetts students who took their own lives after being allegedly bullied by their peers, force us to look carefully at the ways in which school personnel are treating and framing student-to-student interactions. I want to propose that, in fact, both children were sexually harassed by their peers; and to call it "bullying" minimizes what they endured.
On an almost daily basis, I see, read, or hear a story about how women can improve their careers, advance in their pay levels, and avoid the stereotypes associated with women in the workforce. As a feminist, I am interested in these developments and am always rooting for women to pioneer new positions and achieve new forms of advancement.
Open Circle, a program of the Wellesley Centers for Women, works with elementary school communities in New England, New York, and New Jersey to help children become ethical people, contributing citizens, and successful learners. This program helps foster the development of relationships that support safe, caring, and respectful learning communities of children and adults. The Open Circle team is currently updating its grade-differentiated curriculum to provide more support around bullying prevention and increase accessibility and applicability to urban communities. More details about these updates will be posted in the next issue of Research & Action Report.
Reflections and perspectives from Amy Banks, M.D., JBMTI director of advanced training
“I am so glad you are offering the webinars. Twenty years ago I went to the Wednesday evening Stone Center Colloquia and loved them. But then I moved to Texas and had kids so I couldn’t travel. These allow me to feel a part of it again.”
These words were shared with me last October by a participant who attended the pilot webinar, “I Feel Your Pain,” offered by the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute (JBMTI) at the Wellesley Centers for Women. This webinar was part of a new lecture series, The Neurobiology of Connection. Clinical trainings are not new for the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute. We have been teaching Relational-Cultural Theory to mental health providers, educators, and social policy advocates throughout the United States and abroad for almost 30 years.
with Georgia Hall, Ph.D.
With funding through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ’s Active Living Research Program , the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women, has launched a one-year project designed to assess physical activity and healthy eating standards and practices in out-of-school time programs. A collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Boston and the YMCA of the USA, the project will look at out-of-school time programs that serve children and youth in grades K-12 during afternoons, evenings, holidays, and vacations. Programs serving low-income children of color will be a particular focus in the national sample studied. The project allows the investigators to initiate policy research that will assess current out-of-school physical activity and healthy eating policies and practices before new national policies are put in place.
Project directors Georgia Hall, Ph.D., senior research scientist at NIOST, and Jean Wiecha, Ph.D., associate professor in the UMass Boston department of exercise and health science, will work with Ellen Gannett, M.Ed., director of NIOST, and Barbara Roth, M.Ed., YMCA national director for youth and family programs, in carrying out the study.
Research & Action Report Spring/Summer 2009
Rangita de Silva-de Alwis, LL.M., S.J.D., director of International Human Rights Policy Programs at the Wellesley Centers for Women, reflects on ways the Universal Declaration of Human Rights informs the Centers’ newest international work.
This past summer, few of us could escape the media’s relentless coverage of the controversy surrounding the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. Perhaps not surprisingly, the controversy centered on her racial background rather than on her long and impeccable record as a judge, or on her peers’ opinions of her abilities.
Michelle Porche, Ed.D., a senior research scientist at Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), studies academic achievement in literacy and science among young children and adolescents. She is especially interested in the influence of gender and socioemotional factors on the academic achievement of children from low-income families. More recently she has expanded her work to study the impact of trauma on learning and achievement. In addition to work at WCW, Porche spent ten years as a researcher on the longitudinal Home-School Study of Language and Literacy Development at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, where she received her doctorate. She is co-author of Is Literacy Enough? Pathways to Academic Achievement for Adolescents, which describes findings from the Home-School Study. In 2002 she was a corecipient of the International Reading Association’s Albert J. Harris Award for contributions in literacy research.
Starting a blog is a little like trying to find a seat at your favorite coffee shop during primetime. It is where people are at, but if you drape your sweater over a chair, will anyone notice that you’ve claimed this ground? If you post, will anyone read (besides the friends you’ve begged)? Will anyone care?
Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., senior scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women, is internationally recognized for her pioneering work on alcohol and tobacco advertising and the image of women in advertising. Her newest book, So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids, co-authored with Diane E. Levin, was published in 2008. Her book, Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, won the Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Women in Psychology in 2000. She is also known for her award-winning documentaries Killing Us Softly, Slim Hopes, and Calling the Shots.
In July, 2008 the Robert Bowne Foundation transferred the Afterschool Matters (ASM) initiative to the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women. The four components of this comprehensive initiative are: (1) the Practitioner Fellowship Program, which provides an inquiry-based year-long research and writing professional development experience for out-of-school-time practitioners; (2) the Afterschool Matters journal, which disseminates findings and experiences of the Practitioner Fellows and other relevant research from the out-of-school-time field; (3) the Edmund A. Stanley, Jr. Research Grantee program to foster high-quality, cutting-edge research that has lasting impact on the field; and (4) the Research Roundtables, periodic forums for connecting research and practice.
NIOST’s goals in acquiring the ASM initiative include generating additional funding support to enable the national expansion of the initiative, and to ensure the sustainability of ASM into the future.
Sally Engle Merry, a senior scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), is a professor of anthropology and the director of the Law and Society Program at New York University. Previously, at Wellesley College, she was Marion Butler McLean Professor in the History of Ideas and professor of anthropology. Her primary areas of research include the rule of law in various contexts of community life and the adaptation of international standards of human rights to life in local communities.
Two years ago, scholars at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) launched a study of racial and ethnic identification among adolescents of mixed ancestry. The reasons for pursuing the research were several. Most literature about ethnic/racial self-identification patterns derived from adult respondents. For example, the series of studies that led to the change in wording of racial self-identification in the 2000 Census was carried out with adults.
The Robert S. and Grace W. Stone Primary Prevention Initiatives Grant Program, Empowering Children for Life, was established at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) in 2003. This program provided support for research and evaluation that advance understanding the role of relationships in fostering child and adolescent welbeing and healthy human development. Researchers from across the country were invited to submit proposals for funding to support dissertation research or larger research projects.
The notion of the intergenerational transmission of abuse has been accepted for some time. Both research and our own observations lead us to expect that having been abused or neglected or having witnessed violence between parents as a child will contribute to an individual’s increased risk to abuse or neglect one’s own child or to be involved in an abusive relationship as an adult.
Twenty-two years ago, Peggy McIntosh founded a teacher professional development project to work for gender equity in schools. She thought of it as an experiment in faculty-led faculty development – empowering teachers to work within their own schools, and within themselves, for change.
Erika Kates, who recently joined the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) as a senior research scientist, previously served as research director at the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her fields of most extensive experience include women in prison and the effect on women of the intersecting policies of welfare, workforce development, and higher education. She has published extensively, especially on the latter subject. The Educational Development Center recently included her in a book featuring 20 people who have made significant contributions to gender equity in education.
UNICEF and the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) convened a seminal Asian regional conference, Women and Children: the Human Rights Relationship, December 9-10, 2007 in Bangkok, Thailand. This conference was conceptualized by UNICEF’s Global Policy Section as part of a major initiative on human rights-based approaches to women’s and children’s rights. Rangita de Silva-de Alwis, senior advisor for international programs at WCW, led the organizing of this innovative and dynamic conference that had as its aims and goals an exciting agenda for change on the intersections of women’s and children’s rights.
Researchers at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), as part of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD), have followed more than 1,000 children born in 1991. These are the children known as Generation Y – those born of the Baby Boom between 1981-1995. Earlier reports on this study have focused on child care and children’s early development. But these babies are growing up! This article reviews what researchers have learned about the youths’ experiences through sixth grade.
One hot August afternoon in 1999, after the day’s cooking and cleaning were done, I asked some of the young women of Miraflores, a Dominican village I studied for my dissertation, to talk with me about how their lives had changed since so many of their friends and neighbors began migrating to the United States. Mirafloreños have been moving to Boston since the early 1970s, settling in and around the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain. By the mid-1990s, nearly three-quarters of its households had family members living in Massachusetts. Close to 60 percent received some monthly income support from migrants. It seemed to me that the exchanges of people, money, goods, and what I call social remittances or ideas, practices, social capital, and identities that circulate regularly between people who move and people who stay behind had dramatically transformed aspects of daily life. In particular, I wanted to know how women’s lives had changed.
Wellesley Centers for Women is proud to partner with UNICEF for “Women and Children: The Human Rights Relationship,” a conference that examined the intersections and gaps between women’s and children’s rights in Asia. Held December 9-10 in honor of Human Rights Day, the conference brought together rights advocates from across the region to dialogue on and build shared agendas based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Rangita de Silva-de Alwis, WCW senior advisor on international programs, leads the ongoing initiative.
by Michelle Porche and Stephanie Harris
Is Literacy Enough?, which we co-authored with Catherine Snow and Patton Tabors, we explore the continuities and discontinuities of early literacy skills on adolescent achievement. In this book, we describe the original 83 low-income students who began participating in the Home-School Study of Language and Literacy Development at the age of 3, and we conclude with the outcomes for the 47 participants who continued in the study until they reached young adulthood. When this study began, Dr. Snow, the Principal Investigator, set a groundbreaking path into the importance of language as a foundation of early literacy. Results from this study have influenced conceptual and practical approaches to early reading instruction, helping to set national standards. At the end of the 16-year study many hypotheses were borne out, even as new questions were generated about our most vulnerable children.
Q&A with Laura Pappano
Laura Pappano is the first writer-in-residence at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW). An experienced journalist, Laura Pappano has been widely published in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Boston Globe Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Working Mother, and The Harvard Education Letter, among other publications. While at WCW, Laura Pappano is working on a book proposal that will combine her more than 20 years writing about education with her interest in women’s issues. Her new book, co-authored with Eileen McDonagh, Playing with the boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports, has just been released by Oxford University Press.
Can research make a difference? Some view research as a useless ivory tower activity of little meaning. Others expect that research will be so compelling that policy makers will immediately adopt the recommendations. Still others find the plethora of research confusing and contradictory. If research is to make a difference, four conditions must be met. Effective research must 1) be guided by explicit paradigms, 2) be informed by experience and practice, 3) use methods appropriate to the goals, and 4) get into the right hands, the right forums, the right boardrooms.
Q&A with Amy Banks, M.D. and Judith Jordan, Ph.D
The Stone Theory Group developed Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) in the 1970s and the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute has been teaching and applying these ideas for over ten years. Why is it that so much research on the brain is coming out just now?
AB: It’s partly about the technology. Twenty years ago we could take snapshots of the brain but now we are able to scan the brain in action. Using SPECT* scans we can record functioning brains responding in different situations. It’s like getting an MRI when your brain is doing something.
Afterschool practitioners and youth workers play a critical role in today’s society, serving as positive adult role models, mentors, coaches, tutors and friends for young people, and a vital support for working parents. Too often, however, these practitioners do not receive the recognition or resources they need to feel valued in their work by the public and, more importantly, by their employers. While most youth workers are educated, satisfied and committed to making a difference in the lives of the children and youth they serve, too many report being underpaid, underappreciated, and at times overworked, often holding down multiple jobs just to make a living wage. Stress and burnout are all too real and recruitment of qualified administrators and staff remains challenging. For our most vulnerable youth who depend on quality out-of-school time programs, it is imperative that private and public policy makers understand the domino effect that results from underpaid youth workers.
In April, the Wellesley Centers for Women waspleased to welcome colleagues working in 46 countries across the globe to the WCW 2004 International Research and Action Conference: Innovations in Understanding Violence Against Women. Chaired by Linda Williams, Victoria Banyard, and Nada Aoudeh, this truly international meeting was designed for researchers, activists, advocates, and practitioners from theacademic, nongovernmental, community-based, and government domains.
The question most frequently asked of advocates and professionals who work with battered women is: “Why do women stay with men who abuse them?” The short answer is that they don’t: most women who are abused by an intimate partner do not stay with their abusers permanently. Most leave eventually, although the process of leaving may take months or years, with many starts and stops. Unfortunately, the end of the relationship does not necessarily mean the end of the abuse. For these reasons, a more fruitful question to ask is: “What goes into the decision to stay or leave?”
Story after story of former welfare recipients who now hold jobs have created the dominant media metaphor—women formerly leading hopeless, dead-end lives are required by welfare reform to become employed and now are thrilled with their independence and new sense of self-worth. But the public is little aware of the upcoming reauthorization of the 1996 “Welfare Reform Act”—formally the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). This Act replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children assistance to poor and low-income women with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.
The Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) recently welcomed Pamela Alexander, a senior research scientist whose work focuses on gender violence. Alexander, a recent senior research investigator at the Center for Research on Youth and Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Emory University, was on the psychology faculty at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis), and held a tenured associate professorship in psychology at the University of Maryland. She has conducted research in the area of gender-based violence for more than 25 years.
Does it matter to corporate governance whether women serve on a board? If so, does it make a difference how many women serve? That is, is there a critical mass that can bring significant change to the boardroom and improve corporate governance? My colleagues Vicki W. Kramer, Principal, V. Kramer Associates, and Alison M. Konrad, Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, and I set out to answer these important questions. Our findings shed light on a growing problem for organizations and society: not enough women are serving on corporate boards to the corporations’ detriment.
Research & Action Report Fall/Winter 2006
The Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) recently welcomed Rangita de-Silva de-Alwis, S.J.D. as senior advisor on international programs. A legal advocate with her LL.M. and S.J.D. from Harvard Law School, de Silva-de Alwis also holds an appointment as a Research Fellow at the Women and Public Policy Program at the Kennedy School, and brings a wealth of experience working with women’s groups in Asia on the rights of women and children.
Little attention was being paid to the development of after-school opportunities Twenty-five years ago when Michelle (Mickey) Seligson and Jim Levine met to create the School-Age Child Care Project. At that time, Jim was assistant director for the Human Relations-Youth Resources Commission in Brookline, Massachusetts, and Mickey was helping several parent groups in Brookline set up afterschool day care programs. When mention of Mickey's projects in two national magazines drew over 1,500 letters requesting more information, it became clear that there was a great need for such projects across the country.
Over the last year we have faced monumental adversity - a devastating national tragedy, ongoing concerns about terrorism, unpredictable international conflict, a serious downturn in the economy, as well as many other hardships related to these traumatic circumstances. These adversities are testing the courage and fortitude of individuals, families, and communities throughout our country and around the world. In response, many researchers and clinicians have renewed or expanded their efforts to understand how people overcome trauma, severe hardships, and adverse conditions - that is, they have been studying resilience.
On September 12, 2001, as the whole country was trying to make sense of the events of the previous day, parents and teachers had the even tougher task of helping young children deal with trauma. For participants of Open Circle, a social competency program of the Wellesley Centers for Women, the task was slightly easier.
This September, as thousands of men and women headed back to college in pursuit of higher education, many welfare recipients were deprived of this opportunity. Current restrictive welfare policies, with their stringent time limits and work requirements, make access to post-secondary education extremely difficult. Both the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 and the institution of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) emphasize moving welfare recipients into the workforce as quickly as possible, making it difficult for them to pursue higher education. According to Haskins and Blank, writing in Poverty Research News (Joint Center for Poverty Research, 2001), the work-first approach has raised the employment rate without improving job quality, pushing low-income women in particular into low-wage, unstable jobs.