Posts Tagged ‘Grants & Awards’

According the Department of Labor, women ages 16 and older account for about 47 percent of the civilian workforce. However, paid female firefighters represent 3.7 percent of the civilian workforce, making it among the lowest 11 percent of all occupations for women employees.

GO! (Gals Only!) Fire Science Camp, a 2009–11 AAUW Community Action Grant recipient, is determined to change these statistics. The camp was originally developed out of successful basic and advanced coed fire-science career camps, which were launched in 2004 by the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh; Fox Valley Technical College; and the Oshkosh and Appleton fire departments. Since 2009, the GO! camp, which is led by female firefighters and instructors, has brought together young women ages 15–20 who are interested in exploring fire-service careers. Their aim is to educate, train, nurture, and mentor the young women to better prepare them for careers in fire science.

GO! presents a realistic view of fire-science careers to attendees. The girls participate in tours of fire stations and learn that the occupation is more than fighting fires. It includes station maintenance, physical fitness activities, cooking, cleaning, and sometimes discrimination and sexual harassment. The camp maintains a balance by exposing the girls to a combination of theory and field experience. Participants learn how fires behave in various scenarios and how to work gear and equipment — knowledge that is then applied to field activities. In addition to learning about fire science and the life of a firefighter, participants are exposed to leadership development, team building, new friendships, and fun.

The success of the GO! camp has shown in rising enrollment of camp alumni in technical colleges and bachelor’s degree programs. However, fire science isn’t a field many girls consider in their career paths, which results in low camp participation. To overcome this obstacle, the camp works to develop a one-on-one, personal relationship between attendees and the experienced women firefighters. While training is still an integral aspect of the young women’s experiences, those mentoring relationships — developed through camp activities and shared meals — have left lasting impressions on their lives.

The AAUW grant has given GO! the opportunity to help underserved young women explore the fire science field and make connections with female firefighters as mentors. The camp continues to “advance equity for women through education while increasing science and math competencies and knowledge of nontraditional careers for women.” This summer, the camp will offer this unique opportunity again, giving more girls an in-depth look at the life of a female firefighter.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Elyssa Shildneck.

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AAUW holds a special place in my heart. I received an American Fellowship during the last year of my pursuit of my doctorate, and I was awarded a Community Action Grant to help SisterMentors, the nonprofit program that I founded.

I started SisterMentors in 1997 because I wanted to be in the company of women of color working on their dissertations for their doctorates. I grew up in a small village in Trinidad and Tobago where people knew each other and cared about each other’s well-being. I also grew up in the company of women since I had three sisters, and their women friends visited often. So I knew the power of community and the power of women helping each other, and I wanted to recreate that community to help me complete the daunting dissertation.

About three years after SisterMentors began, the women started mentoring girls, and I began to make the connection between what had happened to me when I was a young girl. I went to the first school in my village when I was 8 years old. That school profoundly changed my life. It was there that I met a young teacher named Dora. Dora took me under her wing and pushed me to do all kinds of things I thought I couldn’t do, including participating in sports and singing in the choir. My self-confidence soared, and I began to excel in academics. Dora lit a fire under me, and I took off and never turned back.

Today, SisterMentors is on the road to its 15th anniversary next year, and we are kicking off the celebration with a breakfast fundraiser on Wednesday, November 9,2011 — SisterMentors Discovered: Building the Dream. I am very excited that SisterMentors has been around for so many years and am very grateful to AAUW for its support.

SisterMentors changes the lives of disadvantaged girls and women of color through mentoring, promoting education, and transforming communities. The organization mentors girls of color in elementary, middle, and high school who are from low-income families in the Washington, D.C., area. The girls are mentored by women of color doctoral students, whom SisterMentors helps to complete their dissertations.

SisterMentors has helped 18 girls to go to college and 40 women of color to earn their doctorates. Two of the young women we helped send to college graduated this May, including Megan Tuck, who graduated from Duke University. Tuck is the first in her immediate and extended family to graduate from college.

I invite AAUW members to come to our breakfast fundraiser on Wednesday, November 9, 2011, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Conference Center in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of D.C. We will be premiering a short film on SisterMentors! Please RSVP to me by Friday, October 21, at 202/778-6424 or director@sistermentors.org. I would love to see you there!

This blog was written by 1993–94 American Fellow and 2001–02 Community Action Grantee Shireen Lewis.

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Career Development Grantee Carrie Ellett teaching at Instituto (or ISPEDIBSHA), a multicultural and bilingual school in the Schuar territory in Gualaquiza

This week has been full of news about the Clinton Global Initiative, initiated in 2005 by former President Bill Clinton “to inspire, connect, and empower a community of global leaders to forge solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.” Specifically, the New York Times ran an article about the Teach for All program, modeled after Teach for America and dedicated to an ongoing effort to recruit teachers internationally. Teach for All was founded at the 2007 CGI meeting, a collaboration between Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

This news has made me consider my role as the new AAUW Fellowships and Grants intern. I’ve known AAUW as a multifaceted organization supporting the further empowerment and education of women in the United States. I now realize that there is also an outstanding global component, as seen by the work of the extraordinary fellows and grantees that I am just getting to know. Education — the cornerstone of AAUW — has opened many doors of opportunity for women, and global education facilitates the growth of women’s empowerment on an international scale.

Career Development Grantee Danna Lomax working with her students at Anacapa Middle School in California

At AAUW, fellows and grantees have a passion for the field of global education with multiple and unique areas of specialization. Many recipients in the 2011–12 class demonstrate the complex nature of this field. Here are a few notable examples:

  • Carrie Ellett has spent a decade promoting gender equality through her nonprofit work. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in international and multicultural education, emphasizing human rights education.
  • After completing her master’s, Fulbright recipient and bilingual educator Danna Lomax hopes to create a curriculum that fosters global youth education. She has been featured in PBS’s Innovation Awards Gallery for her engaging teaching methods.
  • Patience Fielding investigates women who overcame patriarchal barriers to pursue careers in engineering and science fields. Her work focuses on higher education and gender in developing nations.
  • Lifang Wang, who is researching her dissertation in China, is focusing on the barriers faced by rural Chinese women who attend urban Chinese universities. Lifang has previously worked with the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

International Fellow Lifang Wang in rural China

These extraordinary women are impressive for their scholarship as well as their passion for women’s empowerment globally. As I continue my work at AAUW, I look forward to seeing the outstanding work they and all AAUW fellows produce.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Elyssa Shildneck.

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Logan, pictured here with her daughter, divides her time between the United States and France.

When I met 1950–51 AAUW International Fellow Nicole Prévost Logan at the AAUW national office in Washington, D.C., I had no idea that I was sitting across from a woman who had spent more than 30 years traveling among three continents, mingling with officials and dignitaries from all over the world, and learning several languages along the way. But in the conversations that followed, it became clear to me that Logan has led a truly extraordinary life — from living on the front lines of a civil war in Lebanon to organizing arts festivals in South Africa to excavating a 12th-century Russian city.

Born and raised in France, Logan attended the elite Institute of Political Studies in Paris and earned her law degree from the Sorbonne. She would have taken the bar exam had she not seen an announcement for the AAUW International Fellowship and decided to apply. Although it took three months to find a political science program in the United States that would accept women, Logan eventually arrived at Stanford University. “That fellowship was essential. It gave another dimension to my life. The whole world opened up because of it,” she said. A half century later, AAUW is still opening doors for women of all nationalities through its fellowships and grants.

A photograph of Nicole Prévost Logan in a political science class at Stanford University in 1950, found in the AAUW archives

While at Stanford, Logan met her future husband, Alan, who was to become a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service. Her new book, Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s 30 Years in the Foreign Service, chronicles her adventures with her late husband and their four children. Between 1951 and 1984 the family was stationed in 10 countries, including Taiwan, the former Soviet Union, Nigeria, Belgium, and South Africa. Despite the fact that the Department of State discouraged diplomats’ wives from working, Logan tried to find a job at each post, working as an editorial assistant, an interpreter, a French teacher, and a radio newscaster, among other things. She said these jobs were an integral part of her learning process, allowing her to learn about local perspectives on American foreign policy. “Each job gave me another approach to that country.”

Meanwhile, Logan was earning a master’s degree in Russian from American University, organizing archaeological workshops for women, and supporting artists struggling under the repressive Soviet regime, all while fulfilling her diplomatic duty to entertain foreign notables. “I never wanted to be just a housewife and family person,” she said. “I like to do everything at the same time.” After her husband’s retirement from diplomacy, Logan organized an archaeological expedition to Moscow with the help of Earthwatch, a nonprofit that involves volunteers in field research. Working within the walls of the Kremlin, her team unearthed the wood foundations of a city 200 hundred years older than archaeologists anticipated.

Logan hopes Forever on the Road will encourage travelers to visit other countries with open eyes and a willingness to learn. “Everybody has a story to tell. It’s a question of finding your niche, what is unique about what you have to say.” She will be sharing insights from her book at the AAUW Lower Connecticut Valley (CT) Branch on August 23 at 6 p.m.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Melissa Rogers.

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Artist and 2009–10 AAUW Career Development Grantee Esy Casey was working in book design when her best friend, Sarah Friedland, asked her to help film a documentary on Zulu women’s experiences with HIV and AIDS. Though she had never worked a camera in a documentary context, Casey quit her job and began taking intensive classes to prepare for filming Thing with No Name. The documentary follows the journeys of two Zulu women through treatment for the deadly virus, which infects one in four people in South Africa. It was nominated for the Haskell Wexler Award for best cinematography at the Woodstock Film Festival and for best documentary at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

It was Casey’s experience filming Thing with No Name and the ensuing conversations with international audiences that motivated her to go back to school. “It was a great way to interact with the world,” she said. “I feel really blessed to have been a part of that. Getting to know those two women and share in the last part of their lives was really special.” AAUW’s Career Development Grant supported Casey’s pursuit of a master’s degree in integrated media arts at Hunter College, where she is working on her next documentary, Jeepney. “The Career Development Grant helped me enormously in terms of allowing me to study. I was able to do it much faster and more intensively with much more attention and love given to my work,” Casey said.

Jeepney is inspired by Casey’s childhood memories of riding in the art-adorned, decommissioned military vehicles from which the documentary takes its name. After World War II, when much of the infrastructure of the Philippines was destroyed, locals began customizing abandoned jeeps to reflect indigenous culture and to serve as mass transportation between rural areas and the crowded capital city of Manila.

Casey hopes to investigate these vibrant relics’ potential as a metaphor for the social and cultural changes occurring in the Philippines. In an increasingly global economy, people are leaving the country to work abroad, and few can afford to decorate and maintain the jeepneys, which are subject to heightened governmental regulation in efforts to modernize. “If the jeepney service goes away, then all these people who have lived in remote mountain areas for generations are forced to move into the slums of Manila,” warned Casey. Furthermore, an important part of heritage of the Philippines’ diverse Spanish, Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, and Arabic populations will be lost.

Casey plans to keep working with film and eventually hopes to teach. She upholds AAUW’s mission of breaking through barriers for women and girls through her artwork’s commitment to social justice. She encourages readers not to be daunted by rejection. “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you no. Just make sure you do something you’re really excited about.”

A longtime Jeep enthusiast and customizer myself, I’ll be closely following Casey’s project in anticipation of its release next year. Learn how you can support Jeepney by visiting its website.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Melissa Rogers.

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As a part of AAUW’s ongoing commitment to improving the status of women and girls globally via fellowships, grassroots programming, and advocacy, AAUW recently hosted 18 women from the All-China Women’s Federation. The Federation was established in 1949 by the Chinese government and has become the largest women’s nongovernmental organization in that country. It represents and protects the rights and welfare of women and promotes equality between men and women. The visit was sponsored by the U.S.-China Exchange Council, an education and service organization dedicated to professional exchange programs between the United States and China.

The delegation consisted of 18 Women’s Federation executive officials from multiple provinces of China, including Jiangsu, Hunan, Hubei, Yangzhou, and Guangdong; a representative from the Tibet Women’s Association; the People’s Bank of China; and several state ministries. The group was very interested in meeting with AAUW to exchange experiences and views on advancing educational and professional opportunities for women in both countries.

AAUW staff shared information about our programs, membership, and research to break through barriers for women and girls. The visitors were particularly interested in learning about the administration and management of AAUW (including media relations, membership, leadership, and staff jobs). They were surprised to learn that government funding is not a major revenue source and that AAUW members raise funds to support the organization. “But isn’t the government obligated to support these issues?” one participant asked. There were many questions about our International Fellowships, and the women were pleased to learn that AAUW is funding five fellows from China during the 2011–12 academic year and that we have supported more than 100 individuals from China since the fellowship program began in 1917. Staff spoke about our global connections, our recent international delegations abroad, and our upcoming trip to South Africa this fall.

We discussed the gender stereotyping common in both the United States and China — a dominance of women in the arts and social sciences and fewer female scientists and engineers. Similar to the United States, high school girls in China have better grades in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, but it is strongly “hinted” that they should consider the social sciences. We could relate to their revelation that women scientists lack funding to pursue research and professional opportunities and that they often suspend their careers after pregnancy; they then experience great difficulty in “catching up.”

The visit ended with a flurry of photos and gift-giving. We stood together for photos, and we shared many thanks, language being no barrier for gratitude. There was mutual admiration for the visit. They thanked us for hosting them, and we were honored to connect with women from across the globe but not so different from us. They care about what so many women care about: education, economic security, the ability to support and nurture our families, and being valued for our contributions to society.

We all smiled as the cameras flashed, happy to create a memory of a common bond we share with all women.

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In June 2008, I left my teaching position in Brazil to pursue a master’s degree in communications at American University. I approached my return to school with apprehension since six years had passed since I said goodbye to writing papers and listening to lectures.

The summer before I started the master’s program, I had already begun reaching out to AAUW fellows and grant recipient alumnae through the “Following the Fellows” blog series. It was comforting to hear their stories, especially those who had made decisions to go back to school after many life experiences.

Over the past year and a half, I coupled hours of research and attending classes with reaching out to AAUW alumnae and hearing their stories. Along the way I’ve met accomplished women in fields ranging from paleontology to human rights law and from ethnomusicology to neuroscience.

Bolstered by more than 100 success stories, I am now looking ahead to my next step and saying goodbye to my internship at AAUW. I have accepted an offer with a local charter school for adult immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area. As a career specialist in the workforce training department, I will be playing a new role with a different population. The common thread is that these students also understand the power of education to change lives for the better.

Here at AAUW, I hope that the alumnae initiative continues to grow as more and more AAUW alumnae discover the value of being connected with the talent, dedication, and intelligence possessed by the more than 10,000 women from 130 countries who have earned AAUW fellowships and grants over the years.

As a parting thought, I’d like to leave you all with some of the words of wisdom that have motivated me through the completion of my graduate degree.

Know that higher education can be attained. Sometimes the biggest obstacle to overcome is self-doubt. —Jill Deiss

Thank your role models and those who have contributed to your successes. —Freda Bredy

Be ready to do things you would never expect. —Margaret Mary Lane

Be open to criticism. We can’t learn without critique. —Diane Favro

Find your passion, and put all your energy into it. —Cynthia Moss

AAUW thanks Mandy for all her fabulous work over the past two years, and we wish her the very best in her new endeavors. She will be sorely missed!

We will continue to feature stories of outstanding alumnae here on AAUW Dialog, so please stay tuned.

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Rachel Sternberg’s research about social attitudes and moral sensibilities related to misery in ancient Athens was in part inspired by the year she spent in Mexico before starting graduate school. She said that in the 1980s Mexico was filled with beggars and that compassion fatigue set in quickly in Mexico City. “You would set forth from home with a pocket full of change, but that would be gone in about 10 minutes. It was overwhelming,” she explained.

In 2003 Rachel was awarded an American Fellowship, which allowed her to finish two books related to her classical studies research: Pity and Power in Ancient Athens and Tragedy Offstage: Suffering and Sympathy in Ancient Athens. Those books helped Rachel land a tenured position at Case Western Reserve University, where she is an associate professor of Greek language, literature, history, and civilization in the Department of Classics. “The help I got was crucial,” said Rachel. “It came just in the nick of time,” as she was raising two daughters in the midst of trying to further her academic career.

Looking ahead to the future, Rachel is now working her way up the timeline of history by relating her research on ancient Athens to more contemporary issues. These days she has been analyzing how her earlier research could be compared to the 18th-century enlightenment. As she delves deeper into the research, she said she is being led in the direction of human rights. “Laws about human rights are important, but the other side is compassion. That’s where my work comes in,” explained Rachel.

Perhaps her extensive research on power, pity, suffering, and sympathy in ancient Greece can help shed some light on the complex contemporary issue that she witnessed firsthand more than 20 years ago in Mexico City.

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After graduating with a bachelor of arts in English and French, 2004–05 American Fellow Robin Blaetz traveled to Paris to reflect on her future. Within a month of arriving, Robin identified her new passion: avant garde film. She returned from Paris and applied to New York University’s cinema studies program, which claims to be the most “Francophile” of them all.

Another fateful trip ultimately led Robin to her research project, this time to acquire a 16 mm Marjorie Keller film for one of her classes. After learning that the only copy of the film was damaged, Robin began to think about the prohibitive costs of restoring the film and other obscure gems, which would otherwise be lost to film history forever. “I knew I had to create scholarly interest in the endangered films so that the impetus to restore and preserve them would be born,” explains Robin.

Robin published an anthology entitled Women’s Experimental Cinema: Critical Frameworks in 2007. She says that there is a tendency in filmmaking to ignore white, upper-middle-class women from the United States who were producing films in the 1950s to 1970s: “I wanted to give these women, several of whom have died, the attention that they deserved.”

Robin was awarded an AAUW American Fellowship for the project. “I felt that my entire area of study, not to mention my personal project, had been validated,” she says. The book, in turn, helped Robin secure her tenured faculty position at Mount Holyoke College, where she has received several research fellowships allowing her to rent obscure 16 mm films, travel to see unknown films, and curate screenings to expose these films to wider audiences. Since the publication of her book, Robin says she has seen preservation projects begin around the films.

In addition to her research, Robin teaches courses in avant-garde cinema. “Since I consider it my first duty to teach students to really see and hear the cinematic text, I find that experimental films often offer the clearest examples,” she explains. Just as Robin draws from her research to enrich her classes, so she sometimes discovers films in preparing for her classes that she then incorporates into her research.

Robin encourages women to learn to become “sophisticated readers of all films, so that they understand and have the ability to reject the plethora of sexist images that surround them.”

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Carol Tang strains the mud from the bottom of Puente Orosco stream looking for live Mexipyrgus snails. Snails can be found within the mud, near gravelly substrates, and associated with the lily pads. Photo by Evan Carson via www.calacademy.org/

Carol Tang strains the mud from the bottom of Puente Orosco stream looking for live Mexipyrgus snails. Snails can be found within the mud, near gravelly substrates, and associated with the lily pads. Photo by Evan Carson via http://www.calacademy.org.

Carol Tang, a paleontologist and 1995–96 American Fellow, wants people to realize that although science is critical to understanding and solving many of the issues we face today, most scientists do science because it is fun. Carol has conducted field research in many interesting places, including England, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. For instance, wading and snorkeling in the thermal springs at the Cuatro Cienegas basin in northeastern Mexico was all in a day’s work for Carol during one rigorous astrobiological study to find extremophiles — animals that thrive in harsh environments.

Carol says that although she considered becoming a marine biologist, her lack of swimming skills, propensity for seasickness, and dislike of dissection pushed her in a different direction. “Paleontology was just right for me. I could study the evolution of marine organisms but still stay on land — and my specimens have all been dead for millions of years!” explains Carol.

Carol used her AAUW fellowship to complete her dissertation at the University of Southern California. “Although I really loved teaching and doing outreach, it was important for me to focus on finishing up the science and the writing of the actual dissertation at that stage in my career. AAUW gave me the opportunity to really focus and not get distracted at a critical time.”

Currently, Carol is the director of visitor interpretive programs at the California Academy of Sciences, where she and her team design exhibits, train and deploy 700 volunteers, give talks to visitors, staff the resource center, and more. “We work to engage diverse audiences and inspire them to learn more about science and nature,” says Carol. In September 2008 Carol also helped open an innovative new museum in Golden Gate Park that houses an aquarium, a natural history museum, and a planetarium. One of the most innovative exhibits in the museum is called “Altered State: Climate Change in California,” which makes the issue of climate change more tangible for museum goers. Visitors can find out how to lower their carbon footprint, learn the environmental impacts of different foods, and vote on controversial topics.

Looking ahead, Carol wants to instill a sense of the playfulness of science in those around her. “It’s important to me to inspire people to appreciate the wonder of the natural world and to discover new things about it,” she says. Carol is also quick to remind us that “all it takes is curiosity and a desire to keep learning — we are all scientists if we allow ourselves to be open-minded.”

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