The Huffington Post

I am so pleased to write that I recently had an article published in The Huffington Post.

Last year for my Junior Seminar, a writing intensive class for sociology majors, I researched the relationship between women’s colleges and women in positions of leadership; namely, my project explored whether or not a positive relationship existed between the two.

Studies of the past have shown that a positive relationship does exist, and I am currently debating whether or not to write a thesis on exploring this relationship today.

Clearly, the relationship between women’s colleges and women in positions of power is not new. And moreover, there seems to be a constant debate about the relevance of women’s colleges in the 21st century.

This December Elisabeth Pfeiffer, a student at the all women’s Scripps College, published the piece, Don’t Like the Gender Gap? Women’s Colleges Might Just Be the Answer. After reading the piece, I was in complete agreement with Ms. Pfeiffer’s argument, and have had many of the same experiences while at Bryn Mawr College.

What I am quite embarrassed to admit, however, is that I was lead to her article by Shannon Miller’s, Don’t Like the Gender Gap? Don’t Encourage It, which was spamming my Facebook and Twitter feeds for the past week.

And so in the spirit of sisterhood, I wanted to reiterate Elisabeth Pfeiffer’s argument, tell of some of my own experiences at Bryn Mawr, and incorporate some of the research I had done for my Junior Seminar into my piece, Women’s Underrepresentation in Politics Makes Women’s Colleges Relevant.

I have already received a lot of encouragement from the Bryn Mawr community as well as the broader women’s college community.

Comments and feedback on the article or this blog would be greatly appreciated!  

My Pledge

The following is an article I penned upon the swearing in of the 113th Congress. And although it wasn’t picked up by the few places I sent it to, I thought my blog was as good of an outlet as any!

Darren McCollester/Getty Images

I rang in the 2012 election with 500 classmates at Bryn Mawr College, a predominantly liberal women’s college. Thomas Great Hall, where we crowded around a projection screen, erupted in applause as CNN called the election for President Obama. But more importantly, it got equally rowdy when yet another woman scored a seat in Congress.

This year, 20 female Senators will be inducted into the 113th Congress. And although the U.S. ranks a pitiful 78th worldwide in its number of women in government, that is still three more than last year, and worthy of celebration.

Ever since the controversial election of 2000, when my Democratic parents threw a “Partisan Pot Luck Dinner” on election night in my hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I have dreamed of a career in politics. I was eight years old and this was the first time I understood how passionate people could be about politics. And in later years, like after Hurricane Katrina, how effective or ineffective government leaders on both sides of the aisle could be.

While I have spent the past decade dreaming of running for public office, and inspired by our female Senator, Mary Landrieu, who was a huge help to our state in the Katrina aftermath, I am painfully aware that politics remains a male dominated field. And growing up, I received little encouragement for my political aspirations, including the one to be President one day.

In high school, I was subjected to the endless sexist joke, Why are women’s feet so small? So they can stand closer to the stove, and taken far less seriously than my similarly politically savvy male friends, a female senator and a female governor, notwithstanding.

This is one of the main reasons I chose to attend Bryn Mawr College. At Bryn Mawr, many of my friends have shared unsettling experiences like mine. One friend was elected “most likely to be President” at her high school in Alabama, but the school changed her superlative because it was not realistic for a woman. My parents, an artist and a writer, have never been particularly opinionated about my future career; with the exception that my mother prays it’s not in politics.

In spite of this, I am still pursuing this dream, taking the only path I know. A junior in college, I am pursuing bachelors in sociology and until recently, I hoped to pursue a master of public policy, eventually working in an administration of some sort. And although nearly all of my friends would say that I have never lost sight of the fact that I’d like to one-day hold office, in truth, during these past few years, I was beginning to lose confidence in myself.

Recently, I was looking into summer internships and my focus was on what will get me into the best graduate school, soonest? I figured graduate school was the path to my dream, and my family and friends shared this mindset. One internship seemed more aligned with the program at Georgetown while another might help with Penn’s.

And then I talked to my professors. My major adviser said, “Hannah, these are all amazing opportunities, and you really can’t go wrong, but why are you looking at these internships with graduate school in mind?” Moreover, he wanted to know why I was pursuing a masters degree in public policy. “You want to be an elected official, not work for one,” he said.

When I went to visit another of my favorite professors, he echoed my major adviser’s sentiment. Don’t work for graduate school; go work in D.C. for a few years after graduation, garner social capital, and work to find a path that will lead you to a successful run.

I left their offices feeling scared and completely uncertain; a feeling most college juniors have, but one that I thought I had escaped. And while I left having no foreseeable plan, I realized that for the first time in my life, my aspirations had been taken seriously.

I look to those 20 elected Senators and wonder what inspired their aspirations, especially at times when they had far fewer role models than I. Had they been fortunate enough to have mentors that took them completely seriously, even when their loving parents hadn’t?

I hope by the time I run for office, women will constitute half of the government, as we do the population. But let’s be real, we still have a long way to go. And as much as I joke that I would like to be the first President who happens to be a woman, in truth, I seriously hope someone beats me to it (HILARY 2016).

I am still unsure of what I will ultimately do after graduation, but as for my future, one thing remains certain: I plan to run for office.

Women in Public Service Launch Party

This Friday we had our Women in Public Service Undergraduate Initiative launch party.

The project, launched by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and five leading women’s colleges – Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley, is housed at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars as of June 2012.

Their mission is to build a generation of women leaders who will invest in their countries and communities, provide leadership in their governments, and change the way global solutions are forged. Developed by a founding partnership of the Department of State and the five leading women’s colleges, WPSP will convene a series of global conversations and launch partnerships to educate and train a new generation of women to enter the public sector with the strategic leadership skills, energy, and commitment required to tackle today’s global challenges.

More information on the national project can be found here.

The Women in Public Service Institute is being held at Bryn Mawr College this summer. The Institute takes place from July 7-19 and will provide a forum for shared learning and dialogue among emerging women leaders from countries that have recently experienced disruptive conflict, but have reached a state of at least tenuous peace and are rebuilding, understanding that the boundaries between conflict and peace are often fragile and fluid.

My friend Maya and I were thrilled at the induction of the Women in Public Service Project, but saddened that undergraduates did not have all that much opportunity to be involved. We have since begun an undergraduate initiative, and had our official launch party a few weeks before the end of the semester. One of our endeavors is to host a series of lectures for women interested in public service leading up to the institute this summer. We hope to attract speakers who can share their unique experiences in public service, as well as speak about being women in male dominated fields. Hopefuls for next semester include Congresswoman Schwartz and Alice Rivlin.

Below are pictures from the launch party. In addition, please like our new Facebook page!

The Next Wave

Last Tuesday I participated in The Next Wave, an international colloquium hosted by Bryn Mawr College.

The one-day colloquium aimed to discuss strategies for women’s advancement in this moment of global shift. It facilitated discussion on expanding sustainable economic opportunity for women post-2015, while broadening women’s participation in civic and political life, and engaging the talents of the “next wave” of emerging women activists and leaders.

I enjoyed watching keynote speaker Mary Ellen Iskenderian, president and CEO of Women’s World Banking who talked about issues of economic development for women namely, how human rights for women will never be fully recognized without economic rights for women. She also asked the audience to constantly question whether or not women are being served in NGO’s we support.

Throughout the colloquium I was particularly thankful for my Women in Society in the Global South seminar, a sociology class that I’m taking with Professor Mary Osirim. It helped me to better understand themes discussed throughout the day, in particular, women’s economic empowerment through the micro-enterprise sector.

Another speaker I really enjoyed seeing was Shelby Knox, who serves as the Director of Organizing, Women’s Rights for, the world’s largest petition platform. Ms. Knox said she was most proud to be a “young feminist organizer” and promoter of “clicktivism.” She also talked about a petition started on by three teens from New Jersey who wanted to have a female moderate one of the presidential debates this year, something that had not been done since 1992. This petition ultimately resulted in Candy Crowley moderating the second presidential debate.

Finally, students from Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, Smith and Brandeis, including my friend and fellow sociology major Molly Fessler, spoke about youth activism and the next wave of change. There were many female high school students at the colloquium and I’m certain this discussion was particularly enlightening for them to hear. I would have loved to have been a part of a Next Wave like conference while in high school, and am thankful for the opportunity to do so in college.

Photo from Bryn Mawr College.

Voter Registration

Bryn Mawr Students for Obama are hosting an ALL DAY VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE this Thursday from 10:00 AM- 6:00 PM.

Stop by our table at Pem Arch to:

  •  Register to vote
  •  Change your voter registration from your home town to PA
  •  Ask us questions about voting from Bryn Mawr
  • Ask us questions about the voter ID law