Research & Action Report, Fall/Winter 2011


Women Leading Change II : Rabat Roundtable Papers

Introduction by Rangita de Silva-de Alwis, S.J.D.

The Arab Spring altered history. In the aftermath of the Egyptian Revolution, the Wellesley Centers for Women partnered with the Ministry of the Interior of the Kingdom of Morocco to convene a Strategic Roundtable on Women Leading Change in the Arab and Muslim World. At this seminar, leading women’s rights advocates from the Arab and Muslim World came together to sustain the spirit of the Arab Awakening through women’s active engagement at every level of decision making in this period of political transition in the region. The Strategic Roundtable offered a critical space at a critical time to reflect on the role of women in political transformation and to identify challenges and impediments to women’s role in the vanguard of political reform in the Arab World and in general the Muslim World. This compilation of papers was presented at the Rabat Roundtable convened May 17-18, 2011.


Getting to the Truths about Race: Reflections on the Politics of Connection in The Help

Maureen Walker, Ph.D. and Christina Robb

I. Getting to the truths about race… and the stories we tell along the way

Although good intentions may be necessary, they are never sufficient to sustain an authentic conversation about race. Because shame and anxiety are endemic to racially stratified cultures, what may start as well-intentioned discourse typically devolves into dread, recrimination, or escapist sentimentality. Using the best-selling novel The Help as a focal point, this paper discusses the critical relational capacities required to facilitate movement toward new relational possibilities.

II. Help for The Help: RCT Meets Theme-Park Segregation

Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) identifies shame as a tool of dominance. In the work of dismantling racist conditioning, shame can play a creative, relational role within white people in cross-race relationships. Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help bypasses this awkward yet liberating process and relies instead on cartoonish fantasy that leaves racial stereotypes in place. But shared reflection about the realities the novel mythologizes can lead to authentic connection.



Afterschool Matters Journals Available

Two issues of Afterschool Matters, the national, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to promoting professionalism, scholarship, and consciousness in the field of afterschool education, have been published since June 2011, under the direction of Editor Georgia Hall, Ph.D., senior research scientist at the National Institute on Out-of-School Time at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW).

The spring issue features articles on building an afterschool workforce; English language acquisition in afterschool programs; goal-setting strategies for elementary-age children; self-assessment of practices that promote academic enrichment; analysis of a social network of programs in Dallas; and the implementation of a boys’ empowerment group.

The fall issue highlights out-of-school-time (OST) programs that address the unique needs of English language learners and African refugee families, and approaches for their academic success. The issue also features articles on afterschool art initiatives that utilize recycled materials; keeping youth at-risk for dropping out of high school on track through out-of-school programming, and ways OST centers can build relationships in the community and with schools.

Afterschool Matters is published by NIOST with support from the Robert Bowne Foundation. Online editions are available at:



Other Publishing News


Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D. and and her former Wellesley College student associate Brittany Low co-wrote a chapter in a forthcoming anthology entitled, Girls’ Sexualities and the Media, co-edited by Kate Harper, Yasmina Katsulis, Vera Lopez, and Georganne Scheiner Gillis. Tentative title of the chapter will be “From media propaganda to de-stigmatizing sex: Exploring a teen magazine by, for, and about girls.”

Charmaraman published “Congregating to create for social change: Urban youth media producers and sense of community” from her dissertation findings, in an upcoming issue of Learning, Media, & Technology. This case study explored how adolescents were empowered through afterschool media production activities and, in the process, re-imagined themselves as active and engaged citizens within their community. Through analyzing interviews, participant observations, and media artifacts of 14 participants (aged 15-19) over a period of 18 months, three main themes emerged from the triangulation of data: sociocultural capital through group ownership; safe space for creative expression; and developing a sense of community with diverse voices. These young people exercised their collective voice toward pro-social actions by writing and producing their stories and showcasing their works at community screenings. They hoped that their videos would promote individual and community transformations. Building on youth development, community psychology, and media literacy frameworks, this article discusses educational implications like advocating for the power of youth media production to bridge participants’ personal and private artistry to public and political statements.

Charmaraman, Alice J. Lee, Wellesley College student intern, and Sumru Erkut, Ph.D. authored “What if you already know everything about sex?”, a content analysis of questions from early adolescents in a middle school sex education program, which will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. The authors analyzed over 800 anonymous questions posed in sex education classrooms in eight racially and ethnically diverse schools in the Boston area. Supported by Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and a 2011 Morse Fellowship at the Wellesley Centers for Women, the study aimed to assess sixth graders’ knowledge and curiosity about sex-related topics that can guide the development of sexual health education and healthcare delivery.

Rangita de Silva-de Alwis, S.J.D., authored “Domestic Violence Lawmaking in Asia: Some Innovative Trends in Feminist Lawmaking,” which will be published in a forthcoming issue of the UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal.

Tracy Gladstone, Ph.D., co-authored “Transmission and Prevention of Mood Disorders among Children of Affectively Ill Parents: A Review” (Beardslee, W.R., Gladstone, T.R.G., and O’Connor, E.E.) for inclusion in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (in press).

Ellen Gannett, M.Ed., is a featured discussant in Advancing Youth Work: Current Trends, Critical Questions, a path-breaking book edited by Dana Fusco that brings together an international list of contributors to collectively articulate a vision for the field of youth work, sharing what they have learned from decades of experience in the training and education of youth workers. Chapter one is, “A conversation with Ellen Gannett.”

Ruth Harriet Jacobs, Ph.D., serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Women & Aging, published by Routledge. Through a variety of disciplines and a blend of scholarly and clinical articles, the journal provides practitioners, educators, researchers, and administrators with a comprehensive guide to the unique challenges facing women in their later years. Jacobs’ poetry has been featured in several publications including the Senior Sunshine Times, Volume 3, Issue I, a newspaper designed specifically for an aging population that shares local and national news and resources.

Nancy Marshall, Ed.D. authored “Employment and Women’s Health” which will be published in a forthcoming issue of Women’s Health Psychology, edited by Mary V. Spiers, Pamela A. Geller, and Jacqueline D. Kloss; publisher: John Wiley & Sons.

Joanne Roberts, Ph.D. co-authored “Building Professional Development for Urban Public Preschools: Experiences and Reflections” (Roberts, J.R. and Love, M.L.), which will be published in The Early Childhood Educator Professional Development Grant Research and Practice (Advances in Early Education and Day Care), edited by John A. Sutterby; publisher: Bingley, UK: Emerald (in press).

Nan Stein, Ed.D. authored “Teaching children and youth about sexual harassment, gender violence and bullying in schools” included in Challenging Gender: Normalization and Beyond, edited by Siv Fahlgren and published by Mid-Sweden University. Stein co-authored with Kelley Mennemeier, B.A., “The Gendered Dimensions of Harassment and Bullying: What domestic and sexual violence advocates need to know,” published by National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and The National Sexual Violence Resource Center.




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