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).
Evaluation of a primary care/Internet-based depression prevention program for at-risk adolescents and their families.
The goal of this project is to produce a reliable and valid measure of teachers’ educational beliefs and knowledge of child development and ECE pedagogy that can be used to validate the effectiveness of professional development programs and interventions, as well as, to provide valuable feedback in applied settings regarding ECE teachers’ professional development needs and classroom appropriateness.
This research project analyzes the effects of family leave policies in the United States and Finland.
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.
This research study uses quantitative and qualitative data collection methods and multiple regression modeling to examine healthy eating and physical activity opportunities in a national sample of out-of-school time programs.
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.
The Work, Families & Children team has conducted a series of studies for the Boston Public Schools (BPS), including the BPS K1 and K2 Programs Needs Assessment, and a 2007-08 follow-up study.
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.
This long-term program brings together research on employment, work and family issues, and child care as a support for working families.
The goal of this study is to increase the capacity of schools to prevent Dating Violence/Harassment (DV/H) by evaluating the effectiveness of current multi-level DV/H prevention programming in middle schools within a large urban school district.
The primary objective of this project is to manage the continuation of the well established Afterschool Matters Initiative, which includes several publications and a Research Grantee program, in addition to planning for the national expansion of a related action/research writing initiative.
This project was a multi-faceted engagement with Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts to conduct an evaluation of the Get Real middle school sexual education curriculum.
This project provides a comprehensive picture of the quality of Boston's Early Care and Education programs for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, in both centers and family child care homes.
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.
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.
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?”
APAS is an assessment system that helps programs link quality and youth outcomes together in a comprehensive and integrated fashion. It was developed to help address the accountability challenge that faces afterschool programs.
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.
This group of inter-related research projects seeks to understand the state of early care and education in Massachusetts and make recommendations for quality outcomes.
The Women’s Sports Leadership Project has the overarching goal of collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information on gender disparities in organized athletics for the purpose of articulating a new vision of female leadership that legitimizes and connects athletic experience to off-the-field skills. The project features the FairGamesNews.com blog.
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.
The Women's Review of Books is published monthly at the Center for Research on Women. It is the only U.S. publication to focus exclusively on books by and about women. Linda Gardiner founded The Women's Review of Books in 1983 and has been its editor ever since.
Making mathematics interesting to young children has been an ongoing challenge faced by parents, teachers, and other education professionals for years. The problem is that children are asked to do abstract mathematical activities that have little intrinsic meaning for them. As a result, children often remain disengaged. Even the attempts to bring in “relevant” or “real world” examples—such as how many cookies each child will get or how long would you have to wait in line—are still not compelling enough to engage a young mind.
According to National estimates, every year more than 700,000 adolescent girls are arrested and brought into the juvenile-justice system. In fact, today, adolescent girls comprise about 28% of all juvenile arrests. Have girls become increasingly more violent in recent years? Is the violent behavior of girls different from that of boys? Do girls need different criminal-justice-system responses to help them cope with the problems they face? And, since many of these girls have experienced abuse in childhood, is there a link between childhood abuse and adolescent delinquency?
By Deborah L. Tolman
Last May, I met with an international group of women who provide reproductive-health and sexuality-education services to adolescent girls in developing countries with support from the International Women’s Health Coalition.
Students are a vivid presence throughout the three buildings that house the Wellesley Centers for Women—at the copy machine, at computers, and at the reception desk. Each year, WCW hires approximately 70 students in a variety of clerical and research positions.
Many of us in this society are mixed up about power. Yet power is very real and is operating right in front of us all the time. Quite amazingly, those who have the most power in our society almost never talk about it, and, even more amazingly, they induce many of the rest of us not to recognize it, either.
Human rights abuse charges are commonly used to attempt to tarnish political leaders and institutions in other countries. However, when the human rights lens focuses on U.S. institutions, such as the Massachusetts family court system, alarming cracks appear in the American assumption of justice at home. The Centers' Battered Mothers' Testimony Project (BMTP) has found that battered women often face yet another form of abuse in court.
Research & Action Report Fall/Winter 2003
The announcement by the Wellesley Centers for Women of plans to host a spring 2004 conference, Innovations in Understanding Violence against Women, has generated unprecedented interest from all parts of the world. To date, more than 300 abstracts for conference presentations have been submitted from 45 countries, evidence of how much this subject is on the minds of researchers, advocates, activists and governmental as well as nongovernmental leaders everywhere.
Effective materials for students, school personnel, and parents are critical to combating bullying and sexual harassment in schools. Creating such tools is a core interest of senior research scientist Nan Stein, a former middle school teacher whose work ranges from anti-bullying and harassment curricula to new work on the dangers that zero tolerance laws pose to children's civil rights. The sale of more than
75,000 copies of Stein's three curricula attests to the need for such classroom tools.
The battle for afterschool care has evolved in the past 20 years from the urgent need to create safe, affordable programs to rising demands for good programs that use afterschool time strategically. Although increasing pressures from the nationwide curriculum reform and standardized testing movements push afterschool programs to focus on academic goals, the precious hours between classroom and family room need to include genuine relationships with caring adults outside the hierarchies of school or family, according to the leaders of the Bringing Yourself to Work (BYTW) program.
Jo Kim, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Wellesley Centers for Women since December 2001, studies gender, race and ethnicity, the workplace, immigration, and globalization. Kim did her master's and doctoral degrees in sociology at Columbia University, where she examined workplace relationships between Korean managers and their Korean-American white-collar employees in U.S.-based Korean transnational corporations. In addition to her research interests, Kim is enthusiastic about teaching and working with students and has taught a number of courses in sociology and women's studies at Columbia and Rutgers Universities. In the spring semester of 2004 she will be teaching a course on Asian-American women in the Women's Studies Department at Wellesley College, where she is currently a visiting assistant professor.
Popular media has “balanced” attention to girls’ difficulties in math and science with considerable attention to boys’ difficulties in language arts. It has often been argued that both problems are a reflection of characteristics inherent in gender differences. However, a growing body of research supports the importance of socialization rather than biology in explaining disadvantages in academic subject areas. We believe that attention to gender socialization within the various contexts of children’s lives is key to understanding how best to prepare all students, girls and boys, for academic success.
Research & Action Report Spring/Summer 2004
In early February, Molly Melching, executive director of Tostan, a Senegal-based nongovernmental organization, and Kerthio Diarra, a Senegalese village woman and human rights activist, visited the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW). Melching and Diarra spent two days at the Centers meeting and talking with WCW staff before continuing on to Washington, D.C., and a congressional briefing on female genital cutting (FGC). The congressional hearings were scheduled for February 6, a day designated to recognize international efforts to end FGC and raise awareness about the issue; February 6 also marked 13 years of work for Tostan.
High in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico, the leader of a microeconomic project working with indigenous women weavers gave her staff a Spanish-language version of Jean Baker Miller’s book, Toward a New Psychology of Women (1976/1986). “I wish you could have seen their wide eyes and delight as the women read it,” she reported. This is just one example of the countless ways the work of the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute (JBMTI) touches the lives of people around the world.
The National Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) Project on Inclusive Curriculum is now in its 18th year. The SEED Project prepares teachers to lead year-long, school-based seminars on making school climates, curricula, and teaching methods more gender fair and multiculturally equitable.
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 the academic, nongovernmental, community-based, and government domains.
Research projects at the Wellesley Centers for Women can take a variety of forms. The mix of approaches ranges from the most “traditional” in which researchers develop an hypothesis, design a study to test it, draw a sample to use in gathering information, and go into the field to collect data, to secondary analyses of existing data sets, and to reviews of published research, such as WCW’s 1992 report for the AAUW, How Schools Shortchange Girls.
The aging of the baby-boom generation is producing profound changes in many sectors of society, the labor force being no exception. According to federal census data, there are currently about 22 million adults aged 55+ in the workplace, and that number represents only the oldest baby boomers.
You have been conducting research in child development and child care at the Wellesley Centers for Women for over 15 years. What initially inspired you to pursue this career? And what continues to inspire you?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. I started my undergraduate studies intending to study elementary education. However, I soon decided I should be prepared to teach all grades, as well as English and math. To do this meant taking extra classes, many of which met during the summer. One summer I took a linguistics class and fell in love with psycholinguistics and language development. I went on to receive my master’s degree in early childhood education and was able to study even more about linguistics. While pursuing my doctoral degree in language development at Harvard Graduate School of Education, I became interested in social policy and my interest in child care blossomed. At WCW I am able to combine my interest in child development and child care, and have been motivated by the desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children.
Harvard President Lawrence Summers drew a storm of criticism this past winter when he spoke about the dearth of top-level women scientists and engineers and suggested that innate sex differences influence achievement in these fields. His somewhat belated explanation that he had intended to provoke discussion, not advance a hypothesis, did little to quell the furor. Summers' remarks and the debate and discussion they ignited are but the tip of the iceberg. Despite years of genuine progress for women in scientific and technological fields, misconceptions about women's abilities and subtle barriers to their progress remain. The interactions and interconnections among biological similarities and differences, environmental factors and cultural assumptions, are complex and difficult to unravel. But regarding questions of when, why, and how women do or do not advance in science, the old "biology is destiny" thesis is clearly not supported by the evidence.
The Jean Baker Miller Training Institute (JBMTI) at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. The Institute is dedicated to the exploration of new models of human strength based on empathy, compassion, and contribution to social justice. Working at both the micro and macro levels, the Institute supports individual change while working for social transformation. The 2005 anniversary year brings deep gratitude for all who have joined in the work, a sense of pride in the accomplishments, and a daunting awareness of what still needs to be done.
Welcome to the post-Columbine world of zero-tolerance school discipline. Zero tolerance means one strike and you’re out, no matter what. Schools are quick to suspend students for anything that could be deemed a weapon, a drug, or a threat, and the result is that students are being controlled in ways that shred their Constitutional rights. Students have been suspended for papers they have written, thoughts they have had, and drawings they have created (Commonwealth v. Milo, M., 433 Mass. 149 ). Elementary-school children have been suspended for comments made in the heat of a touch football game or in response to a teacher denying permission to go to the bathroom, comments that schools characterized as "death threats." In a case from Jonesboro, Arkansas, an eight year-old boy was suspended for pointing a chicken nugget toward a teacher and saying "Pow, pow."
The Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) has three postdoctoral research positions sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). In the summer of 2004 researchers were selected and matched with a mentor. During their two-year tenure at WCW, the fellows receive training in a variety of skills ranging from methodology to preparing a manuscript for publication and writing grant proposals. The program is designed to prepare the junior researchers to become senior scholars in the study of childhood and adolescence, with special emphasis on how race and ethnicity, gender, and social class interact with risk and resilience factors in human development. Fellows can collaborate with their mentors on externally funded research projects and can initiate independent research conducted under the guidance of their mentor. Sumru Erkut is working with Michelle Bragg, Linda Williams is teamed with Diane Purvin, and Nancy Marshall is partnered with Jasmine Waddell.
The Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) is proud to announce the relaunch of Women’s Review of Books! Founded by WCW in 1983, Women’s Review was published monthly for 22 years before suspending publication in December, 2004, due to rising debt. Women’s Review will return in January, 2006, as a bimonthly tabloid.
This past June, the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute (JBMTI) at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) held Research Forum 2005, a professional development program that showcased “Relational-Cultural Research in the Real World” and provided resources for investigators who seek practical examples to inform and advance their work.
The National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women recently completed work on a comprehensive, three-year study on afterschool programs in Massachusetts, in partnership with the Intercultural Center for Research in Education (INCRE). One of the first studies of this scope nationally, the Massachusetts Afterschool Research Study (MARS) stands as a primary opportunity for researchers to examine the relationships between program characteristics and indicators of program quality, and how these relate to youth development outcomes.
In 1987 Pamela Seigle, a teacher and school psychologist, was invited to work with six teachers from two of the most diverse schools in Framingham, MA. The teachers took a leap of faith and signed up to participate in an action-research project focused on what was then described as a “coping skills” program. Together, they explored ways to help young school children develop critical communication, self-control, and problem solving skills. They also wanted to discover ways that schools could create safe learning environments that would support both the social and academic success of children. with those who did not. The benefits are evident as well in the day-to-day lives of scores of children and educators in schools that use the program.
Explained by Allison Tracy, Ph.D., WCW Methodologist and Research Scientist
The Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) has been a leader in the study of issues of importance to women for more than 30 years. What makes our work somewhat different from many other “think tanks” around the country is that the Centers’ staff pursue research about which we are unabashedly passionate, with the goal of making a positive difference in the world. This vigor which we bring to our work may appear to some, particularly if the findings challenge their views, to be at the expense of scholarly rigor. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Research & Action Report Spring/Summer 2006
More than 200 advocates, researchers, and grassroots organizers convened at the New York County Lawyer’s Association (NYCLA) on March 4, 2006 for “Violence against Women: From Critical Concerns to Collective Action,” a one-day conference that coincided with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Fiftieth Session. The conference, co-sponsored by the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) and the NYCLA, was part of a two-year advocacy effort of the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) Committee on the Status of Women, NY.
In November of 2003, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that the exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution of marriage was discordant with existing constitutional principles. In 2004, after the ruling went into effect, the Same-sex Marriage Study Group formed at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW). Faced with the unique opportunity to study how the recent legalization of samesex marriage affected gay and lesbian couples in Massachusetts, the group designed the Exploratory Study of Same-sex Marriage. Through the study, the team sought to explore the diversity of experiences along the lines of gender, race/ethnicity, and parenting status. The study also examined how children in same-sex-parented families perceived and experienced this social change.
The National SEED ProjectSM is a peer-led professional development program that creates conversational communities to drive personal, organizational, and societal change toward greater equity and diversity.
This project is designed to explore and develop approaches to enhancing business practice and productivity through relational and emotional intelligence, and encourages mutual empowerment, the shifting of organizational norms, and continuous learning and teaching.
Years ago, after-school hours were a time when children played in the neighborhood, at home, or with friends. Today, they are a time when many parents scramble to find accessible, affordable, high-quality child care. As the number of after-school programs increases and the child-care field expands, various agendas are being promoted about the "appropriate" role of these programs in children's lives: academic skill development to improve performance on standardized tests, social competency skills, crime prevention, or welfare reform.
The workshops, courses, trainings, and publications at the Institute utilize the Relational-Cultural Model of development, which focuses on 'growth-fostering relationships' as central to positive human development.
Open Circle provides evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum and professional development for elementary schools.
This long-term program has brought national attention to the importance of children's out-of-school time using research, training and advocacy to strengthen children's emotional, physical, and social development.