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Big Questions Surrounding Gender Equity Blog

Response to: Big Questions Surrounding Gender Equity

By Patricia M. Shields, PhD
Texas State University:

When I entered the field of public administration, gender equity was framed by simpler concerns. It focused on the underrepresentation of women in MPA programs and among MPA faculty. There was perhaps a tacit assumption that as women’s presence grew, their impact on the theory, scholarship and practice of PA would grow accordingly. Maria D’Agostino and Nicole Elias’s blog post examine a world where this has yet to happen. They place some of the responsibility for this on women’s lack of representation on editorial boards and in the position of editor-in-chief.

I concur. Decisions about what and who to grace the pages of PA and Policy journals influence the content and leadership of our field. The Feeney et al. (2018) PARarticle “Power in Editorial Positions” made this clear. This article called for more transparency and voiced concern about bias. All of their arguments made sense. While we do not want editors or editorial boards to be bias, they are selected for their expertise and judgment. This judgment guides their decisions about the nature and future of the field. When women are missing from these positions, their guiding judgments are missing. I believe the field would be stronger if these guiding judgments reflected greater diversity. Voices, which now feel marginalized, can be better synthesized.

A commitment to increase the presence of women on editorial board and in the decision-making role of editor, is about the future of PA. I believe we should also turn our attention backward and re-imagine our past. A history of PA absent women is a contemporary problem. We need to find and re-integrate women into our historical narrative. Women’s contributions may not fit the neat categories that provide us with the stories of our founding fathers. We will need to look in unorthodox places and make the connections. The women are there, they were just marginalized and often pushed over into social work. Non-profit administration offers another avenue of investigation.

Even without the authority of the vote, women organized to recreate their communities. Theda Skocpol’s (1995) Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policyand Cam Stivers (2000) Bureau Men and Settlement Womenare examples of work that should be part of mainstream PA history. I feel certain that if we look into social work, particularly the branches that focus on policy and advocacy, we will find many amazing pioneers of public administration. We need a historical pluralism and revisiting and reintegrating the work of women at the time of the founding is one way to do this.

Nicole and Maria asked me to contribute to the discussion because I have edited a journal for almost 18 years. Armed Forces & Societyis on the SSCI for both political science and sociology. It is international and interdisciplinary and looks broadly at social science and policy issues, which emerge as military and society intersect. Subjects we entertain include veterans, military families, gender integration, base closures, privatization, democratic control and mental health. About 15 percent of our submissions come from faculty in public administration or policy schools.

I published my dissertation, which examined the equity of the draft during the Vietnam era in Armed Forces & Society. The organization that owns the journal, Inter-university Seminar on Armed Forces and Society, was begun by military sociologists. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s leaders in this organization offered me many opportunities to expand my scholarly horizons, particularly in the areas of military recruitment, women and family issues. During that time, I attended conferences, participated in invited policy forums, contributed three journal articles, wrote nine book reviews and reviewed about three manuscripts a year. All of these activities contributed to the invitation in 2000 to become the editor-in-chief of Armed Forces & Society.  

In that role, I have been able to exercise that editorial judgment and influence the scholarship of civil-military relations. One surprising way I did this was to assign more European reviewers to manuscripts about the US military. I believed these papers often needed a more international perspective. Only later did I learn that European scholars were pleasantly surprised that they would be asked to comment on papers about the US military. They also began recommending Armed Forces & Societyas a publication outlet to more of their colleagues. The US authors responded positively as their assumptions were challenged and horizons widened.  The tone and scope of these articles improved in unexpected ways. I use this as an example of how seemingly small editorial decisions (who receives reviews) can influence scholarship. I also believe that my perspective as a woman contributed to that editorial decision.

I have several suggestions for how to increase the visibility of and impact of women’s ideas and scholarship in PA. First, don’t be shy. Promote your ideas and scholarship. Present at conferences, use social media platforms like Academia.edu and Research Gate. Cite yourself. Second, find a network of likeminded scholars and publish with them. Cite each other. Third, review for journals. Believe it or not, strong reviews set you up as a possible editor. In these reviews, when appropriate, suggest additional works by women be integrated into the literature. If your work fits, include it too. Fourth, have an active research agenda with manuscripts in various stages of completion. Learn from reviews. Figure out how the comments can contribute and make the changes. I had one particularly nasty and mean-spirited review. After a period of shock, I thanked my stars that I was not married to that jerk and revised taking into account the useful stuff. The line on my vita is sweet revenge.

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Big Questions Surrounding Gender Equity Blog

Big Questions Surrounding Gender Equity in Academia and the Field of Public Administration

male and female signage on wall
by Dr. Maria J. D’Agostino and Dr. Nicole M. Elias:

During the 2017-2018 academic year, sex and gender dynamics became a primary focus across disciplines. For example, central topics included: under representation of women in academic leadership and scholarship, gendered content within top journals and editorial board membership, and the #MeToo movement prompting sexual harassment and assault within academia and campus settings to come to light.

This interest in gender taking form underscores the need for MPA curricula to promote gender competency for faculty, students, and future practitioners alike. Organizations such as Women in the Public Sector at John Jay College, ASPA’s Section for Women in Public Administration, and Academic Women in Public Administration have taken steps to further understanding, collaboration, and fruitful projects that promote greater gender equity in the field of public administration.

As we are start our summer projects, and catch up on all our reading and writing,  we should take time to pause, reflect, and engage in discussion on recent research and women’s roles that focus on women in academia and public administration. Here, we highlight recent scholarship that embodies these critical issues for women. We invite reflection, responses, and ongoing dialogue considering next steps for addressing these challenges and proposing new ways of thinking and taking action.   

Women in leadership are underrepresented across all fields, including academia. The need for more women in top management roles is discussed as part of the #MeToo movement to counter the existing power imbalances in organizations. In their 2018 Journal of Public Affairs Education article, Gender and the Role of Directors of Public Administration and Policy Programs Stabile, Terman and Kuerbitz, Stabile, Terman & Kuerbitz assess gender as it relates to director positions in Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Master of Public Policy (MPP) programs. They explore whether women are more likely than men to serve as MPA and MPP program directors and whether men and women report different experiences in the role, such as length of service, rewards and burdens, and possible constraints on research and teaching and thus promotion potential. They found that some gendered characterizations of women’s leadership persist; yet, men and women program directors typically experience similar struggles in balancing their administrative roles with the demands of teaching and research, both of which are likely to suffer during their service. The recent research by Beaty and Davis (2018) Gender Disparity in Professional City Management: Making the Case for Enhancing Leadership Curriculum,  highlights the paucity of women in senior management positions even though there in no lack of women with professional training. They call for the teaching of public administration to reflect it’s changing world by including specific areas of inquiry in the MPA curriculum including why more women do not attain senior executive positions. They conclude that professional training programs can better prepare women for the new world of public administration by making gender more visible within the leadership curriculum.  There is no doubt that the MPA curriculum should highlight sex/gender issues. However, this presents us with another fundamental challenge articulated by Meghan Hatch in (2018), Quiet Voices: misalignment of the three c’s in public administration curriculum, Here, Hatch asks how we achieve greater equity in academia when women write less than 20% of required readings. As Gina Scutelnicu and Hillary J. Knepper emphasize in A Tale of Two Journals: Women’s Representation in Public Administration Scholarship, women publish less than men as solo, lead, and top 10 authors in leading public administration journals.  Meghan Hatch maintains that although scholars preach congruence between “the three C’s” (concepts, context, and content) of public administration in order to keep the field relevant, the content and concepts taught in the MPA classroom do not match the context in the field and provides strategies to address the problem. Beyond addressing these gender imbalances in the classroom,  Feeney et. al. (2018) focus on a root cause of this problem in Power in Editorial Positions: A Feminist Critique of Public Administration. They maintain that women’s representation as journal editors and editorial boards is key to shaping the direction of research in the field because editors are the gatekeepers of what will be published.

Using this recent scholarship as a point of departure, we ask authors, journal editors and board members, those in service leadership roles, and members of academia interested in the topics of representation of women, gendered curriculum content and pedagogy, sexual harassment and assault, and other salient topics to contribute to this discussion.

The responses from authors, journal editors and board members, and leaders in this area of scholarship will be posted.  We, also, would like to invite anyone whom would like to contribute to, please email their contribution to the Women in the Public Sector email account: womeninthepublicsector@gmail.com or wps@jjay.cuny.edu.  

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Blog Miscellaneous

Deborah Koetzle: Above and Beyond, Thirty Remarkable Women.

Women in the Public Sector (WPS),  would like to congratulate Dr. Deborah Koetzle, Executive Officer of the Doctoral Program, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, for being honored in the ‘Above and Beyond List’, which places a spotlight on thirty remarkable women in education, health, labor, law/lobbying, government, and real estate. Please see her biographical sketch below and read more about the accomplishments of other NYC women who received this honor.

Spotlighting Dr. Koetzle’s Contributions

Some academics spend the bulk of their careers in research labs and classrooms, but Deborah Koetzle takes her work out into the field, working around the world to help fight recidivism.

“I’m fortunate to be among that group that gets their hands dirty,” Koetzle says. “I’m hoping to make a difference … (by) helping to bridge that gap between research and practice.”

Koetzle has been brought in as a consultant to improve corrections programs in New York and beyond. She also trains staffers how to assess an individual’s likelihood of reoffending and most significant risk factors – insight that can be used to create targeted treatment and supervision plans.

She helped to develop and secure funding for a specialized probation program for 16- to 24-year-olds in New York City, and she is currently working with El Salvador’s prison system to help improve the severe overcrowding there.

In graduate school, Koetzle did an internship at a state prison and saw firsthand how many prisoners had become trapped by bad decisions and difficult circumstances. Helping them, she knew, would help their communities as well.

“There are such a number of collateral effects that extend beyond the individual,” she says.

https://cityandstateny.com/articles/power-list/above-beyond/above-beyond-2018-most-remarkable-women.html

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Please Welcome Our Two Newest Members!

Stephanie Jaquez     

Stephanie Jaquez is third year Master of Public Administration student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, specializing in Investigation and Operational Inspection. After her first year in the MPA program, Stephanie was welcomed by CUNY School of Law as a dual degree student. Now entering her third year of law school she has served on the executive boards of the Latin Law Student Association as the Scholarship Chair and Parents Attending Law School as the Events Coordinator. Stephanie has interned at the Legal Aid Society Juvenile Rights Practice where she gained courtroom and investigation exposure. This past summer Stephanie presented to an audience of law students and professors at the National Lawyers Guild Law for the People Convention in Washington, DC where she discussed racial and gender disparities in the legal profession. Upon graduating, Stephanie hopes to obtain a position in an Inspector General’s office as legal counsel, apply for a PhD program and launch a nonprofit organization for young women in her community.

Shanelle Greenidge

Shanelle Greenidge is a graduate student in the Masters of Pubic Administration (Public Policy and Administration) with a specialization in Management and Operation. She has earned an Associate in Science and Bachelor of Science at CUNY Medgar Evers College with Cum Laude degree honors. During her undergraduate career, she has gained experience working with New York State and City organizations on projects to enhance methods in which public service is provided. These government entities include the Kings County Clerk, New York City Department of Transportation, New York City Transit, and New York City Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications. Upon graduating, she intends to pursue a doctorate degree in Organizational Theory and a long term administrative career in operations within a government agency.

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Blog Events & Conferences

NASPAA 2018 Student Simulation Competition

(Left) Tanisha Morrison: Masters of Public Administration student in the Inspection and Oversight Program; (Middle) Monica Zambrano Saquicela: Maters of Public Administration student in Public Policy and Administration Program, the 2018 NASPAA Simulation regional winner; (Right) Tyresa Jackson: Masters of Public Administration student in the Public Policy and Administration Program. 

Three Masters of Public Administration (MPA) John Jay College of Criminal Justice students were selected to participate in the 2018 Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) Student Simulation Competition held on Saturday, February 24, 2018.  As participants, students worked in small groups to address hypothetical scenarios of a global pandemic by using data developed from the simulations on fictitious countries. Interestingly, it was later revealed, the information used in the simulation was based on real countries, like Kenya. In total, there were approximately eight-rounds of the competition that were split between the morning and the afternoon–three rounds (in the morning, and then in the afternoon) were used to construct the simulation and the last round was used to develop a policy analysis based on the data gathered during each simulation.  From John Jay College, City University of New York (CUNY) the following MPA students participated in the simulation: Monica Zambrano Saquicela, Tanisha Morrison, and Tyresa Jackson.

Overall, this event experience enhanced our critical thinking abilities, public speaking, and our ability to interpret data.  Further, we were able to network with fellow MPA students from colleges and universities in the Northeast, including Columbia University, Metropolitan College of New York, and the University of Connecticut. The most interesting part of this event was learning how to navigate a simulation program and developing policies based on the information collected during the simulation.

From my perspective, the most valuable piece taken away from the 2018 NASPAA Simulation was learning how to make decisions and solve problems with limited information and time. Participating in the simulation demonstrated that policy is constructed under imperfect conditions with significant constraints. This enhanced my ability to think in a fast and precise manner, when working under a tight deadline.  Furthermore, for the future, I would like to once again participate in the NASPAA Simulation and apply the skills I have learned during the 2018 NASPAA to a future competition.  

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Reflections on the Power of Networking from the Women in the Public Sector Spring 2018 Networking Event

By Gina Ortiz & Tyresa Jackson:

Throughout high school, I recall teachers advising that it is not what you know, but who you know. So I’d often wonder, did that mean I was going to school for nothing? And if that was the case, where was I supposed to meet this game changing friends and professionals? Why did I need people to draw upon my own successes in order to get ahead?

Now a soon to be graduating Masters student, I better understand the power of networking. While networking may serve as a planted seed for some organizations, networking may serve as a professional development tool for individuals in other contexts. I personally enjoyed attending John Jay’s networking events such as the occasional social hour, because I was in search of new friends and contacts within the public administration field. I have served in the criminal justice field and have many contacts within the field. Networking beyond my professional circle allowed me to meet some really great friends who I stay in contact with regularly and encourage each other. For many young professionals, networking goes beyond friendships or a line of encouragement. There is certainly a lot of potential in networking because after all, success is essentially a team effort.

Women in The Public Sector at John Jay College of Criminal Justice held the WPS Spring 2018 networking event to bring students, faculty, staff and professionals within and beyond the John Jay College community together for the opportunity to learn more networking tools as well as meet other professionals in the public sector. Over seventy five students, faculty and staff attended and engaged in a host of exciting activities! These activities included professional simulations of pay negotiations, listening to the experiences of senior-level in the public sector, along with learning how to promote yourself through a 30 second elevator pitch! These exercises were beneficial to all because it in turn, they helped to enhance their negotiation skills, public speaking, and confidence in networking.   

Amazing Professionals in attendance were:

  • Will Simpkins, Ed.D., Senior Director of the Center for Career and Professor Development, who also moderated this event.
  • Ashley Emerole, Adjunct Lecturer at Metropolitan College and Deputy Chief Clerk at the New York City Board of Elections (BOE)
  • Alaina Gilligo, John Jay College Faculty Member, Deputy Comptroller
  • Bill Jorgenson: Director of Outreach and Investigation at the Department of Investigation,
  • Laura Ginns: Vice President for Policy and Strategic Initiatives at John Jay College of Criminal Justice,
  • Linara Davidson: Managing Director for Development and External Affairs at East Harlem Tutorial,
  • Stephen Rolandi: Adjunct Lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal of Justice
  • Sergine Louis: Nonprofit Management Executive.  

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Home-Based Care Sector Needs Innovation and Policy Supports To Raise Job Quality For Working Women

a woman in yellow cardigan preparing a food while an elderly man sitting on the side
by Dr.Elizabeth Nisbet and Dr. Jennifer Craft Morgan:

In New York State, many women, often people of color and immigrants, work as personal care or home health aides to care for persons with chronic illness, disability or dementia who need assistance with daily living tasks. Over 300,000 of these women hold a job largely financed with public funds and in some cases, as direct government employees.

The majority of home-based care services in the U.S. is funded by public sources including Medicaid and Medicare. These jobs are usually low wage, high demand with poor working conditions and few opportunities for advancement. They also exemplify two trends in the workforce that help explain the situation of many low-income working women today: occupational segregation, or the overrepresentation of certain groups of workers in certain jobs, and growth of low-wage work in the service sector. According to PHI, nearly 90% of home care aides are women; well over half are women of color and aged 45 or above. Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate their median pay in 2016 was $10.60 per hour, while the occupation is projected to grow 40% by 2026. However, public policy is changing aide pay in some places. For example, home health aides working for larger New York City-based agencies must earn $13 an hour plus benefits (as of December, 2017). Recent national legislation (2016) also afforded many aides nationwide first-time rights to overtime pay, rights that New York aides have enjoyed under a more limited law already.

Our recent study in the Journal of Applied Gerontology examines the experiences of these aides highlighting the difficulty getting enough work hours or maintaining a stable schedule. This problem has been well-documented for restaurant and retail workers, but it looks different for care aides, whose schedules depend on the needs of low resource clients, Medicaid or Medicare policy changes, and on decisions made by employing agencies.

Our interviews with 30 people in 17 agencies who hire aides and assign schedules focused on how labor and health care policy affect employer practices. Interview participants believed Medicaid policy change had, at least in the short term, shortened visits to patients and reduced the number of patients, which made it harder to create good schedules. They reported that aides wanted more hours. They were cutting back on overtime and reorganizing schedules to respond to regulations about overtime and pay for time traveling to homes, because they said the current structure of health care funding did not cover those costs (since then, the state provided some funds to Medicaid plans that are intended to address this). There were also changes to the way round-the-clock care was authorized so that people stayed 24 hours in a home and were paid 13, instead of working one of two 12-hour shifts.

Some innovative employers were adopting new ways to improve job satisfaction and provide steady work, such as hiring an aide to work in the office who could go out on short-notice visits, hiring mentors to help new hires, and finding new ways schedulers and aides could work together. Some aides working for more than one unionized agency may also pool hours to gain enough time to receive health care benefits.

In the restaurant and retail sectors, some workers desiring better schedules are benefiting from state laws related to scheduling notification or call-in or send-home practices. Policies like this could be helpful to care workers too, but care work presents different challenges: income can be dramatically affected by a patient’s death, change in health, or sudden admission to the hospital, and total work hours are limited by what public programs will authorize. As this occupation grows, continued attention to how policy and employer innovations can serve care aides, their patients, and their employers is needed.

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About the author:

Dr. Elizabeth Nisbet is an Assistant Professor of Public Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. Her research focuses on public and private sector responsibilities for public services and labor markets, and on how labor, health, and immigration policies affect both public services and low-wage work.

About the author:

Dr. Jennifer Craft Morgan is an Assistant Professor in the Gerontology Institute at Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta. Her primary research interest is in workforce studies within health care organizations. She has led six major funded projects evaluating the impact of career ladder, continuing education and financial incentive workforce development programs on health care worker outcomes, quality of care outcomes and perceived return on investment for health care organizations and educational partners. She has published and presented widely in both scholarly and practice-based outlets. Her work seeks to tie research, education and service together by focusing on the translation of lessons learned. This translation of research into lessons and tools serves to help stakeholders, such as employers, program implementers, and workers, to build evidence- based solutions to pressing problems.

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Gender Disparities with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

shallow focus photography of microscope
by Tyresa Jackson:

Starting in elementary school, the importance of increasing cultural and gender competence is an integral part of developing students’ confidence to pursue studies in fields deemed challenging, like mathematics and the sciences.  In particular, there are large disparities in the number of African-American women pursing an education and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) related fields.  These disparities demonstrate a larger problem within education standards, gender bias and stereotypes. 

Dr. Chandra Prescod-Weinstein is the 63rd African-American woman to attain a doctorate in physics. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein specializes in theoretical physics, and further reading raised a few questions:  What are astrophysicists, and why are there a small number of African-American women for who attain PhDs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) related fields?  Both globally and domestically, there are major differences in girls educated in STEM[Office1] .  [NE2] 

According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, fifty-seven percent of bachelor degrees earned in all fields were earned by women, however, nineteen percent of bachelor’s degree within engineering were earned by women, compared to eighty-one percent of men.  Further, thirty-nine percent of physics degrees were earned by women compared to sixty-one percent of men.

Girls in STEM

Gender disparities between boys and girls pursuing STEM related courses is evident starting in primary school and are due to an array of factors, including societal, familial, and cultural influences.  Although, access to education for women and girls have improved globally, disparities in the access to a basic education still persist, thereby influencing the gender gap in STEM education.

To demonstrate, a study conducted in the United Kingdom, found at ages ten to eleven both boys and girls equally engaged in STEM education (75% of boys and 72% of girls), and reported learning interesting things in science.  Later, at the age of eighteen, these numbers changed to 33% of boys and 19% of girls learning something interesting things in science (UNESCO, 2017). 

Within the United States, disparities in STEM span across both gender and racial lines[Office3] .  For example, in the American College Testing (ACT) publication—The Condition of STEM 2016, it reported 30,057 African American students tested in mathematics, science and STEM; of those students tested, twenty-five percent met ACT college math readiness standards, twenty-two percent met ACT science college readiness standards, and nine percent met ACT college STEM readiness standards.  Comparatively, 23,102 Asian-American students took the ACT, and eighty percent met ACT college readiness standards, sixty-eight percent met ACT science college readiness standards, and fifty-four percent met ACT STEM college readiness standards. 

On balance, in total, there were 162,878 male test takers, and forty-one percent met ACT STEM college readiness standards.  Moreover, in total, there were 185,769 female test takers, and twenty-six percent met ACT STEM college readiness standards.

African American Girls in STEM

Over the past century, African-American women have made great strides in STEM related careers, including Katherine Johnson, a mathematician at NASA, Mae Jemison-NASA astronaut, engineer, and physician, and now, Chandra Prescod-Weinstein, a physicist.  Despite these advances, African-American women continue to fall behind their counterparts in pursuing STEM related education and careers[Office4] .  According to the National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources and Statistics, in 2006, one percent of African-American women were employed as scientist and engineers compared.

Studies have found that African-American and Hispanic girls say they have an interest in STEM, but have less exposure, less adult support, lower academic achievement, and are more aware of gender barriers.  Also, once an African-American student is identified as low performing, they are tracked from primary through secondary education, and placed in lower-level courses (DeSena & Ansalone, 2009; “Teaching Inequity”, 1989). Furthermore, social science has found internalizing gender stereotypes of being insufficient, leads to low performance in STEM courses (Girls Scouts of the USA/Girl Scout Research Institute, 2012).

If we are to increase the likelihood of more African American women attaining a PhD in physics or other STEM related fields we must cultivate an educational environment that increases intellectual aptitude by incorporating calculus, chemistry, physics as part of the mandatory curriculum starting in primary education. 

With the support of family, teachers, and positive adults, African-American girls, and girls throughout the world can dismember negative stereotypes and cultivate a generation of women scientist and mathematicians[Office5] .  Teachers and faculty alike, starting from elementary through post-secondary must provide additional supports (e.g., STEM afterschool programs and culturally competent class material); further, recruiting more women teacher of diverse cultures who are educated in a STEM related field, in, turn, removes the stigma girls are not smart enough.

The importance of encouraging African-American girls and women to pursue STEM related fields, in turn, can increase their representation in higher education.  Additionally, in higher education many students of color face difficulties completing math and science courses, and therefore, diversifying curriculum development and implementation can bring forth unique ways to teach African-American students, and other students of color, for example, using pedagogy.    

To conclude, parents and caretakers alike are encouraged to place children in STEM after-school programs and summer camps, which increases intellectual abilities-critical thinking, mathematics skills, and reading. Gender equity begins with simple words of encouragement and supporting girls by allowing them to take challenging math and science course along with having tutoring and additional systems. 

Pasted below, are STEM programs parents and caretakers alike can place their children within.

http://www.nea.org/tools/lessons/stem-resources.html

https://www.stemfinity.com/Free-STEM-Education-Resources

https://www.nyas.org/programs/global-stem-alliance/afterschool-stem-mentoring/

http://www.afterschoolstemhub.org

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About the author:

Tyresa Jackson is a graduate student in the Masters of Public Administration program (Public Policy and Administration), with a specialization in law and administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  Prior to matriculating into John Jay College of Criminal Justice, she earned a Bachelor of Art in International Political Economy and Diplomacy with a minor in Mass Communications from the University of Bridgeport.  

While living in Bridgeport, Connecticut, she served on the Juvenile Review Board, which provided restorative justice recommendations to at-risk-youth in the Bridgeport community.  Later, she moved to Chicago, where she served as a board member on Illinois Collaboration on Youth Advisory Board (ICOY).  Her passions include, closing the education-to-prison pipeline, education reform, and increasing the number of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, volunteering, and participating in 5K runs.

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Blog Miscellaneous

Be-YOU-tiful

By Gina Oritz:

“Cheers!” “ Cheers to what!?” My dear friend Koso exclaimed climbing onto the side of the bar to join in the celebratory happy hour. “Cheers to all women who despite however many interviews they go on, no matter how much institutional bias they face, may they never lose sight of their dreams!” “You can say that again! Cheers!” We shared.

Koso has been on the job hunt for 3 months now, embarked upon 6 interviews thus far, 2 secondary interviews and still, no callbacks. In one interview she was asked about whether or not she had an adequate childcare arrangement, in another she was asked if her religious beliefs and political stance on abortion would influence her capabilities of remaining neutral in the workplace. Furthermore, what could a woman like her offer that the majority of other applicants bring to the table? A woman like her? Talk about poor choice of words.

“I am ready for a challenge, more money, more social capital, more learning experiences in the field, I am eager and very communicative to employers on my willingness to learn, grow, succeed why can’t they see that!?” Koso questioned. Case management has always been one of the most rewarding yet exhausting jobs Koso and I ever endured in our careers thus far. I was fortunate enough to have moved on 6 years ago while Koso remained with the company and continues to work there today.

Authenticity is the quality of being real, genuine, and worthy of acceptance.  If we truly, deeply, sincerely, take the time to nurture our true sense of self and stand up against institutional bias with confidence, we can challenge the misperception of women everywhere one beautiful soul at a time. How? By taking care of ourselves, building up our self confidence by any means and bringing those around us up with us! 70% of women refrain from applying to jobs they are interested in because they simply feel they don’t fit every single requirement listed in the job description; however, most qualification listings are mere desired qualifications and not always written in stone. Women are consistently holding themselves back from success! In light of not being our own enemy, I say believe in yourself, believe and turn everyone into believers! Apply, apply, apply!  

Institutional bias is a disease that manifests into endless forms and for some may be a matter of perception but women everywhere need to face it head on and defy those odds by putting their best foot forward no matter what, but always remember to be Be-You-tiful! Here are some practical tips:

  • Apply to every job you know you’ll serve as an essential asset to regardless of the extended requirements.
  • Be your own cheerleader, sometimes our circumstances call for nothing more than faith in who we are but more importantly, who we wish to be, disregard any outside commentary that have the potential to tamper with your confidence, be-you-tiful!
  • Always dress for success and be mindful of how you introduce yourself to the world! Confidence and class with a hint of undeniable determination never hurt anyone. Be assertive, knowledgeable of all the latest policies, procedures and recent legislation that ultimately weighs in our favor such as it is no longer legal to inquire about our prior salaries. This policy challenges the potential for gender bias when discussing desired salary amounts at point of interview or later.
  • Take advantage of professional social media accounts, seek new connections and network!
  • Always have an end in mind! (Ask yourself, where / who do you want to be!)You cannot deny a woman who knows exactly what she wants.
  • Master time management! If you are like me, our ambitions can often build up beyond our time capacity but with effective time management we can do it all! Yes we Can!              -Gina Ortiz

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About the author:

Gina Ortiz is a graduate assistant with Women in The Public Sector at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and passionate advocate for Gender equality, personal & intersocietal empowerment and leadership through opportunity for women everywhere.

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In Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month Commissioner Ana Bermudez

On September 26, 2017 Women in the Public Sector at John Jay College collaborated with the Office of External Affairs to host Commissioner Ana Bermudez of the New York City Department of Probation. John Jay College met Commissioner Ana Bermudez and in turn provided students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to learn more about her work and inspiration behind her work within the juvenile justice system, trial work, collaborative efforts with ACS, probation policy and planning all while serving as the first female Latina leader of the agency. This discussion also stood as a platform for students to learn more about how to go about overcoming social bias in and out the work place, what it means to be   authentic as a professional, leader, or a woman of society today, career planning, governmental opportunities for students, the significance of teamwork at any level of success, and so much more.  Below WPS student team members Gina Ortiz, Danny Ovando, Uroosa Malik, Matthew Lynch share what their highlights and responses to the discussion with Commissioner Bermudez. 

Ana Bermudez was the most honest, forthcoming and inspirational speaker I have ever had the honor of witnessing! Through the words of her mother, Commissioner Bermudez shared, “the key to happiness and success is by praising one’s unique sense of self, that is authenticity”. As Commissioner Bermudez broke down the distinction between being the leader and the boss, we learned teamwork and mentorship is critical to organizational success at any level of authority because no matter how wonderful or skillful we are, we will never be able to carry out success alone. She began her opening remarks by stating, beyond many of her professional achievements as a successful woman in the field of Probation and Juvenile Justice, she is also the first lesbian woman leader to make a difference and that is a liberating and proud cornerstone to her daily life that she will never take for granted and proudly seeks to pave the way of strength for those who struggle with bias intended to limit their success. Her message to those who fear homophobia, sexism, social bias in the workforce, guess what, you are going to encounter bias, judgement, criticism but you must always love yourself enough to flourish in a place where you are respected, valued, and invested for the individual in you. Now that is authentic! Thank you, Commissioner Bermudez!                                  

– Gina Ortiz

 The impactful portion of Commissioner Bermudez’s discussion was inspiring. She took the initiative to address a negative and critical aspect of our criminal justice system.  As an advocate for change, Ana Bermudez supported the establishment of a new law that prohibits individuals under the age of 18 to be tried as adults. This new policy provides minors with a platform that promotes educational opportunities, life coaching, and goal oriented seminars. Commissioner Bermudez stated that “the goal will not be to complete probation, but to focus on a future worth living.” Such a restorative approach to this type of injustice will help reduce the high recidivism rate that our country currently faces.

Commissioner Bermudez’s restorative changes will apply to all individuals regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, religious preference, and all other attributions. She argued that we, as a country, have a lot of work to do when it comes to resolving gender conformity issues. We also need to get better at interacting with the opposite sex. For example, she stated that there are more male probation supervisors than female probation officers. This has led to several cases of abuse of power, involving quid pro quo scenarios. Commissioner Bermudez suggested that we must get involved in our community and support legislations that address these issues to bring about change and awareness to the public.

– Danny Ovando

Ana M. Bermudez is a living, breathing example of change in our society. She has been faced with many challenges throughout her years of being the Probation Department’s Commissioner. However, one challenge which struck the most was her addressing the need of her employees and their comfort working in her Department. One Human Resource example that Commissioner Bermudez cites as a challenge for her was being open about her sexual orientation and understanding how she cannot favor one group of individuals over the other. She had hoped to hold an LGBTQ gathering in her office, in order to open more doors for individuals who face discrimination, bias or misjudgments. However, being such an authoritative leader, she continues to tackle disparities and pushes forward to connect the differences she faces. It is her goal and further aspires to build bridges in the community, while filling in the gaps through the trials she’s witnessed within her timespan of being Commissioner. Her fierce persona and diligence in committing to her vision is what inspired everyone in the room to stand up for what they believe in, joining together and fighting for justice!

– Uroosa Malik

Commissioner Bermudez’s no apologetic attitude about her values and what she stands for is very inspirational to everyone, no matter what your background. It showed how tough and unbreakable she is when she began her speech about stating her sexuality for everyone right away. It is important to show how strong women, no matter what their diversity and background can succeed. This gives women in New York City hope that you can succeed and women like Ana Bermudez and paving the way by becoming the first openly lesbian w Latina woman, and only second women woman to hold the office as commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation.  

Here at Women in the Public Sector we work hard to showcase women like Ana and to help raise awareness and address gender issues in the public sector. All of us here thank Commissioner Bermudez for her magnificent work! We are encouraged that female leaders continue to inspire young generation public servants, especially women and members of the LGBTQ community.

– Matthew Lynch

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