Research & Action Report Spring/Summer 2004

international work  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.

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.

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.