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From the Director
As I write this, it is Women's History Month. But rather than reviewing what women have done in the past, this newsletter offers a glimpse of what women today are doing to change their worlds. Singly or in community, in Africa, in the U. S. and across the world, women are addressing ongoing struggles with courage, commitment, and action.
We salute the women of Liberia as wielders of newly acquired political power. The film Pray the Devil Back to Hell portrays the activism of women working to end civil war in Liberia; Vivian Lowery Derryck of the Bridges Institute, provides analysis and understanding of these events. At the same time, we salute Abby Disney for using her position in the film industry to enable this project.
Here at home, women like Kim Bobo–our 2011 Twink Frey Visiting Social Activist– create innovative approaches to long-standing problems. Gathering members of faith communities together with workers, Bobo works to address the issue of wage theft. If wage theft is a new concept to you, as it was to some of us, be sure to read more in the story on page 7. As our Visiting Social Activist, Bobo has been able to update her important book on wage theft while also connecting with the local community. Her presentation on wage theft was cosponsored by groups as varied as the Ecumenical Center and
International Residence, the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at U-M, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, and the Washtenaw County Workers Center, among others.
On our campus, CEW's affiliated groups The Women of Color in the Academy Project (WOCAP) and the Women of Color Task Force (WCTF) continue to monitor the climate for women of color faculty and the career advancement of all staff– but particularly women of color – at the University. This year's WCTF career conference featured State Representative Shanelle Jackson as keynote speaker, sharing her own story about balancing the commitments to family, work, and self while achieving her goals. Over 40 workshops were offered throughout the day on topics ranging from leadership to exercise to social media.
Dr. Rusty Barceló addressed women of color faculty and others who joined WOCAP at the conference Advancing Together: State of Women of Color Faculty at the University of Michigan. Barceló's discussion of her long career in promoting diversity in higher education, along with her challenges to those in the audience, was supplemented by a variety of panels offered to participants.
And let's not forget the difference that one person can make. If you haven't yet read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, you can find out more about this amazing book from our review.
At CEW, we celebrate the struggles and triumphs of women individually and collectively. Our work leads to differences in lives: a career changer successfully transitioning, or a student receiving the support to complete a degree. We also aim to make a difference in our community, both at the University and beyond, through workshops, special events, advocacy and research. As always, we are especially thankful for the generosity of donors near and far who support the work of the Center for the Education of Women in these lean times.
Gloria D. Thomas, Ph.D.