Look We’re Famous!

8 Nov


From the UC Maroon:

Julia Stasch,  Vice President of the MacArthur Foundation:
“The straight, purposeful, goal-oriented career path? No. It was serendipitous and wonderful that I was not focused on a single identity to cloak myself in,” Stasch said, stressing the importance of remaining open to career opportunities.

Blaire Byg, GALS Board Member:
“She provides an interesting perspective specifically for U of C students because they tend to be goal-oriented and competitive,” 

Our event last night with Ms. Stasch from the MacArthur Foundation was very successful. Posts to follow!

Molly Cunningham


Women in Leadership: Hillary Clinton and Human Rights

7 Nov

From the Editor-in-Chief:
Hillary Clinton and Human Rights 

Hillary Clinton has recently been in the news for her stances on human rights in Uzbekistan, Bahrain, and Iran. There has been considerable criticism directed towards the Obama administration concerning human rights and gender-oriented rights. Hillary Clinton, the most visible female figure of the Obama administration, has borne the brunt of criticism regarding international human rights and international women’s rights. I shall not comment specifically about the performance of Secretary Clinton during this past week, but I thought I would republish a blog post from our predecessor blog on Secretary Clinton and her perspective on human rights. I would recommend watching the video referred to in the post first for context.

Without further ado:

Letters from a Girl:

Dear Secretary of State Clinton,

Having just watched video clips of your parallel speeches from the UN Conferences on Women, I have to admit. I was very impressed by the quality of your message on the issue of women and their rights and progress. There is an attractive ring to your words, driven home by the equating of qualities of women to all of humanity. Linking human rights to the rights of women and later the upward ascendancy on the human race with the development of women in society makes for a rousing call to battle for your audience in 1995 and in 2010. For the preservation and progress of humanity, we must look to our women.

Nevertheless, I do wonder about the implications of your words from 1995. Why must we make a distinction between humanity and women, Mrs. Clinton?

The violations you mention within the 1995, the intimidation, the suppression, the mutilation, and the death of women are striking examples of the lack of human rights worldwide. Without a doubt, the persecution of women constitutes a severe challenge for those who preach the doctrine of moral absolutism and the creed of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Here is my problem with your semantics –focusing solely on the rights of women does not advance the agenda of human rights its intended target, human beings in general.

To expand on this opinion, consider the actual semantics of your equation of the rights of human beings to the rights of women. Focusing solely the right of access to proper medical on the brutal treatment of women at the hands of “doctors” performing female genital mutilation tends to exclude the male gender from such considerations. By making this distinction that women’s rights are human rights, a logical argument can be made that it is ultimately discriminatory to those of another gender, which is surely not your point.

In terms of the human rights theory advanced in the 1940s (by UN Ambassador and intellectual Eleanor Roosevelt, no less), human rights needs to focus on those claims made by all human beings. The specific rights of women within the strictly academic sense is a “specific” right, according to theorist Maurice Cranston, but human rights focus on those rights specific to all human beings. These rights are those rights innate within all human beings. We cannot confuse the rights specific to a gender with those sacrosanct rights given to us by our existence as human rights. The progress made on these rights advance women’s rights, but progress with women’s rights does not necessarily advance human rights.
From 1995 to 2010, obvious progress has been made from the transition to a new millennium. Women occupy more top positions in government, business, education, and even religion (that bastion of anti-feminist sentiment, madam!). You yourself are, arguably, the most powerful woman in America as the Secretary of State for the Obama administration. This progress in society is laudable, and you mention this in your speech from 2010. However, we cannot confuse this progress with complacency, which you do warn against. However, women are not always the targets of abuses of human rights. Our rhetoric as women should be inclusive for human beings.

My point, Mrs. Clinton, is simply that the rights of women, the progress of women should be part of a larger movement of humanity towards equality. Through the progression of history, we have become more powerful, more educated, and more motivated as a gender. Focusing ourselves solely inward upon our own gender can temporary alleviate the problems of gender within a community while not addressing the problems of human rights. Women have an important role to play in alleviating the suffering of all humans, not just their oppressed sisters. 

Again, these are merely my opinions based on my admittedly limited experiences with human rights literature and legal code as well as the struggle of women for the rights of all women. I am a woman, but I am innately a human being.  

A Girl

I hope this post will give some perspective and continuity to Galatea on our discussion on women in leadership. I shall confess to being a fan of Secretary Clinton, but I shall promise a balanced perspective. The women of the GOP, the Republican women, will get their day with a post: 

Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin are Feminist Icons…
Whether They Like It or Not!

Stay tuned,

Molly Cunningham
Editor-in-Chief, Galatea
GALS Board Member  

Community Service Update!

7 Nov

Community Service Update

“Feminism + Theater!”

Emmaline Campbell
GALS President  

This week, GALS got out of Hyde Park and up to 20% Theatre Company in Lakeview. 20% Theatre Company is dedicated to strengthening the presence and raising public awareness of women artists in theatre. It is estimated that only 20% of theatre professionals are women. By providing educational opportunities for women directors, producers, designers, and playwrights, 20% Theatre Company Chicago strives to increase the number of women in theatre.

This weekend, GALS joined 20% Theatre Company at a tech day and helped them get their space ready for their upcoming show, House of Yes. We painted the set and put up posters for the show.

GALS President Emmaline Campbell shows off her painting skills. 

It was great to meet some other activists around Chicago who are taking on feminism in a totally different way than we are: though theater. It was also nice to see a room full of women during sawing, painting, drilling, and putting up lights. It was a great community experience, and a lot of fun!

GALS Board Member Blair Byg, having a “great community experience, and a lot of fun!”


Emmaline Campbell is the President of GALS and is a second-year in the College. She is our fearless commander-in-chief, and she is always up for challenges with a smile.

Editor’s Note: Community Service Updates will cover Community Service Days hosted by GALS and will discuss the benefits of community service to the discussion on gender issues.   

Women in Leadership: Exploring the Gender Pay Gap

7 Nov

Women in Leadership: Exploring the Gender Pay Gap
Blaire Byg
GALS Board

Exploring the Gender Pay Gap:
Lessons from Professor Marianne Bertrand

With stories entitled “Are Men Over?” populating the web and books being published with names like Man Down: Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt That Women Are Better Cops, Drivers, Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers, and Just About Everything Else it is often hard to remember why feminism in the 21st century is still a relevant issue. Currently, women are earning more college degrees, graduating with higher GPAs, and experiencing a higher employment rate than men. Women are having children later in order to first obtain educations and launch successful careers and single women choosing to have children has become much less taboo.

 Yet, areas in which there are striking disparities between the two genders do still exist. One of the most prominent is in the wage levels of men and women. According to the New York Times, the largest pay gap between men and women is in the finance realm, with women earning approximately $0.70 for every dollar earned by men. The smallest gap exists in construction with women earning approximately 92.2 cents for every dollar earned by men. The median pay gap is about $0.80 earned by women for every dollar earned by men. Regardless, there is obviously still a discrepancy between the two genders.

Recently, GALS invited Professor Marianne Bertrand from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to come to our meeting and share her research on the gender pay gap. Professor Bertrand interviewed graduates of the MBA program at the Booth School from the years 1990 through 2006. Her hope was to discover how large the pay gap actually is, what trends exist in the pay gap after graduation, and what the major causes of the pay gap are. Going into the study, Professor Bertrand claimed that she believed discrimination was probably a contributor to the pay gap. However, her findings surprised both her and the majority of attendees at last week’s GALS meeting.

Professor Marianne Bertrand
(Photo Credit: Booth School of Business) 

From 1990 to 2006 there have been 570 MBAs awarded from the Booth School, with 24% of those degrees going to women. Immediately after graduation, the pay gap between women and men with MBAs is extremely negligible. However, after ten years in the workforce the gap increases to about 60%, with female MBA-holders earning about $0.60 to every dollar earned by male MBA-holders.

Why does this occur?

Bertrand’s studies show that 10 years after graduating from an MBA program, about 40% of women have taken a six-month leave of absence from work, while only about 10% of men have taken a leave of absence of this length. Additionally, ten years after graduation women with MBA degrees work, on average, 49 hours a week, while men work about 56 hours a week. Right after graduation, however, both males and females work approximately 60 hours a week.

Another difference that Bertrand discovered in her studies was the type of courses taken while enrolled in an MBA program. Females tend to gravitate towards marketing and advertising while men tend to take more finance-based courses. Typically, finance and consulting jobs tend to have a higher salary than marketing and advertising jobs, thus lending itself to the inequity in pay received by men and women in the business world.
Bertrand summed up these findings by saying that there is really not a large pay gap between males and females. Rather, there is a large pay gap between males and females who have children. Once females make the decision to have children and are forced to take some time off for maternity leave, the pay gap increases significantly. Especially in the business world, taking any time off is extremely detrimental and it is hard to come back to the same position with the exact same pay. While class choices and labor market experience also play a role in creating the pay gap, time off is by far the biggest contributor.

If you noticed anything missing from this list of contributors, you are in the same position that Professor Bertrand was after she completed her study. The absence of any talk of discrimination is very striking. Based off of her studies, Bertrand found almost no evidence that gender discrimination plays a role in causing the gender pay gap. From her interviews with graduates of the Booth School, Bertrand found that there were very few instances of discrimination and certainly not enough to make it statistically significant. This result surprised her a great deal.

The fact that there is very little gender discrimination occurring in the business world is a positive development. Many of the reasons that the pay gap exists are present because of the choices that women are making. Thus, it is probably safe to assume that women in the business world do not often feel marginalized and are fairly content with their position and their pay.

But does this mean there is nothing that could be improved upon?

Of course not. Maybe men should be contributing more in the very early stages of child-raising and taking time off from their work, allowing the female to return to work earlier. Maybe there should be more of an effort to make women more financially literate before entering into MBA programs so that more females become interested in finance and consulting. Maybe the business sector needs to make more of an effort to reduce productivity costs, allowing women the freedom to take a few months off for maternity leave without suffering from a massive pay cut.

All of these are possible solutions, but are by no means the right ones or the only ones. And as to whether or not gender parity in the business sector should even be our final goal is another debatable issue. Professor Bertrand seemed to think that parity doesn’t need to be the final goal, as long as women are making the choices that are causing them the most happiness. These are all issues that will need to be explored more as gender issues and feminism continue to evolve in our modern world.

Blaire Byg is a member of the GALS Board and a second-year in the College. She is involved in social outreach and programming, and she usually is a ray of sunshine during the dark days of fall. 

Women in Leadership: A Personal Anecdote

7 Nov

Women in Leadership: A Personal Anecdote
Jennifer Nudo
GALS, Vice-President
Managing Editor, Galatea

As we begin discussing feminism and gender equality, I want to share a personal experience that greatly shapes how I try to communicate my opinions and views with others.

During high school, I was a part of the speech team and had practice with a science teacher named Ms. Smith (an exceptionally unimaginative name change by me).  One afternoon during my senior year, I went to practice in a jeans skirt, tights, and long sleeve shirt.  When I walked in, my coach immediately warned me that I should be written up for that outfit.

This is not a rant against dress codes.  I feel reasonable dress codes can be very beneficial in high schools as long as they are enforced fairly.  However, Ms. Smith was not strict about enforcing my school’s dress code.  In fact, I had seen girls with shorter skirts than mine walk into her classroom without hearing a word.

So it struck me as bizarre that she would single me out—especially during an after school activity.

She didn’t write me up but I was subjected to a lecture about that I wear is a message to the world. Ms. Smith demanded that I should reconsider how I present myself.  She seemed utterly baffled at how any self-respecting young woman could have chosen an outfit.

I was furious after this encounter.  First off, I looked ridiculous that day—I needed to do my laundry and was short on options.  I was wearing these tacky zebra print boots I really liked back then for some reason with grey tights, a jean mini skirt, and an orange top.   I don’t think I was actually breaking the dress code considering I had on thick tights.  Regardless, this outfit was not a cry for male attention but an unfortunate combination of my poor taste and lack of clean pants.

The most troubling part of this encounter was that she seemed disappointed in me, which is what drove her to single me out.  I think she felt that I was a “smart girl” who was better than that and was falling victim to the social pressures to be sexy or to be what boys want.  She wanted to free me of these pressures and empower me to dress and behave in a more conservative manner.

Empowering young women to make their own choices is very important. This dictum of feminism sadly is not addressed enough in high schools. I understand that Ms. Smith had good intentions.  However, what she did was not empowering. I had made my own decision when I got dressed that morning. She reduced that decision to a reaction to social pressure and in turn decided for me what was an appropriate manner to present myself. Instead of feeling empowered, I felt judged and belittled.

She operated under the assumption that a smart young woman like myself couldn’t possibly want to dress like that. I must have been under the influence of some external force.  She felt she knew what I was thinking and what was what best for me and needed to correct me.  There was no discussion of why I chose that outfit.  She simply told me the right way to dress and to behave.

Looking back at this encounter now, I think this is why feminism is painted in a negative light. Often, feminists are perceived as busy bodies telling other people how to live their lives. People don’t want to be told how to behave or why they make certain decisions by people who don’t know them and therefore they reject feminism.  While this is not what feminism is in general, there are people like Ms. Smith who do act like that and sadly I feel many people view all feminists in that way.

I strongly believe that the fight for gender equality must be focused on giving men and women more options without mandating “the best option”. I know this is difficult to do, as we often have strong opinions on what others should do, but we must keep this tendency to dictate behavior in mind.  In my opinion, the goal of gender equality is not to not instruct people what to do, but to promote equal rights, to give people the freedom to make their own decisions, to empower individuals to make the right decisions for them, and to spread acceptance and understanding.

Jennifer is the Vice-President for GALS and Managing Editor for Galatea. She is in Paris for the Fall Quarter and will return for the Winter and Spring Quarters.  


Look, We’re famous!

3 Nov

GALS is featured this week on Her Campus. Check it out!

From Campus CelebriRSO: The Gals Behind GALS:

Emmaline Campbell: GALS stands for Gender Activism, Learning, and Service. We hold discussions on gender issues, host guest speakers, participate in community service, and write articles for our blog. I joined GALS because I think it’s important to be educated about gender issues and advocate for women’s rights.

Jennifer Nudo: It’s hard to give a concise accurate description of what GALS is because it’s very new and changing a lot.  The most basic mission is to give students a place to discuss issues surrounding women and gender. I choose to be involved in GALS because I think the issues we discuss are immensely interesting and extremely important but not often discussed.  It provides an environment where I feel comfortable engaging in controversial topics and expressing my opinions.  Since I joined last year, GALS has helped better define and communicate my opinions while learning.

Women in Leadership: Women in Science

22 Oct

Women in Leadership: Women in Science
Gladys Banfor
GALS Board

Women in Science:
What’s the Problem?

Until the late 1800’s women were not allowed to go to college this allowed men to keep women out of science in the past [1].  Now that institutional barrier has been overcome and the number of degree earning women has exceeded that of men the number of women in science should have increased, yet it is still very low [1]. So, what is the problem?

Today women earn about 58 percent of all undergraduate degrees in the U.S., but women receive only about 21 percent of degrees in the field of computer and information science, and only 19 percent of engineering degrees [2].  Even with all the effort spent trying to improve the number of women undergraduates in physical sciences, a new study shows most universities are failing [2].  Not only are women under represented in the science they tend to under preforming their male classmates. This may in part be due to the teaching environment found in science departments [2]. Efforts to close the gender gap often focus on students instead of institutional structures. Studies have found the institution, in some cases unintentionally, “often portrays science and engineering as highly competitive, masculine domains”[2] thus discouraging women from pursuing theses fields. Although many universities are dedicated to increasing women presence in these “elite fields,” their programs improvements often include such things as peer mentoring instead of creating real structural change [2]. Universities then to favor the “easier” fix approached that have shown a lack of results. As a result of these institutional structures, fewer women pursue these fields in school contributing to the gender gap found in these fields.

Many in the field have also attributed the gender gap to the view shared by both men and women that science just isn’t a good choice for women [3]. Many women feel the pressure to perform in science is too great. A successful science career required scientists to devote their life to the lab. They may spend well over 40 hours a week at the lab. These lifestyle demands conflicts with women’s family desires and needs [3].  Women who still play a lead role in their family responsibilities have a hard time finding a balance. It’s hard to have kids and work a 70-hour week [3].  Along with the stresses of the job, women lack a support network. The tiny population of women scientists causes a lack of role models [1] and peers. Women have few people they can turn to for guidance in the male dominated field. This creates a greater expectation and places more demand on women in these fields.

There is substantive proof that the lack of women in leading roles of science is not because of the “old boys club” ideals in the hiring process it is the intimidating atmosphere and life choices of women that keep them from entering this profession [2]. Whether this is the fault of women or society is hard to determine. The real issue is whether it matters. If women simply prefer to not enter the physical science fields then is there a reason to worry about the differences in gender representation?


[1] http://www.andreagrant.org/work/paper.html



Gladys Banfor is a member of the GALS Board and is  a second-year in the College. She is the Board’s most passionate advocate for women in the sciences, when she is not advising us on innovative programming.