Check out this video of UMBC junior, Yoo-Jin Kang!
If you are a member of the UMBC community you can “paw” her video here.
Kevin Johnson, mechanical engineering major
Men in CWIT group facilitator
Lauren Mazzoli, Math/Computer Science Major
Calling out to all women over 25 returning to college with 60 acquired credits. It’s scholarship time! What a wonderful thing! The scholarships this year have been streamlined into one form. That means three scholarships – The Bryson-Neville, The Charlotte Newcombe, and The AEGON– will all be accessible through one application! What terrific news!
Being an AEGON scholar has vastly changed my life. First of all, I have never received such a gift like this in my life. I am a single mother of three children and the cost of living is expensive. I began school to better my prospects, achieve my dreams, and teach my children that working hard and doing well is the key to a good life. Through my 35 years worth of experience, I have decided that higher education is the best road for humanity. It is the road to peace, tolerance, equality and compassion. While higher education constantly expands one’s mind and demands a great sacrifice of one’s time, the struggle and the commitment to follow through is priceless. Here we grow, we change, we share, we exchange, we bond, we exist and carry on through the hard times and celebrate our accomplishments. There may be different majors, but in reality, there is no division. We co-exist together, no judgments, no adversity, we are a university. A universal city.
AEGON taught me that there are forces who want to see me succeed. I must be on the right path. God knows I’ve been down so many roads. Somebody, I’ve never even met, believes in me. That is powerful. With fresh, sweet wind at my sails, I’m propelled into the future knowing that I’ve been chosen for this award. Therefore, I have a responsibility not only to myself and my family, but now to the world to follow through with my vision. The motivation is stronger, the will to succeed is greater, and it feels awesome!
REMEMBER: Scholarship applications are due April 4, 2014! Good luck!
It wasn’t long ago when I became interested in equality for everyone and started to research this area more in depth. When I moved to United States five years ago my knowledge about feminism and equality was so basic, and I never identified as a feminist. Two years after my arrival to the United States I started my higher education at a community college and would go to school with my aunt. She is an activist for women’s rights and those car rides to campus were full of amazing conversions, questions from me and answers from her. We would talk about many different topics – from education to women’s right, to gender equality, to kids in abusive families. After a year of these amazing car rides I came to the conclusion that I am interested in the topic of equality for everyone, women’s rights, and violence against women and children.
Meanwhile I started working with a foundation in Iran that works with disadvantaged women to help empower themselves and gain control over their lives. After working with these girls and expanding my knowledge about women’s rights and equality, I decided to continue my education in the social sciences. I decided to major in Gender and Women’s Studies and Sociology and it wasn’t until my first course in Women’s Studies that I realized feminism is for me too – but what did that mean for me? I will never forget at some point in the middle of the semester, my professor asked us who identifies as a feminist. I kept my hand in the middle – I wasn’t sure! I thought I knew but I didn’t. As the class progressed, though, and as we talked about this topic more, I did realize I could and would claim the feminist label.
With this identification, though, I realized that the way I define my feminism is different than the way my family members, my classmates, friends, sister and others might define it. When I say I am feminist I mean I am an activist for equality for everyone regardless of gender, race, age, etc. I am saying that I want to promote human rights for everyone – especially those who are from underrepresented identities. “Coming out” as a someone who is interested in women’s studies was not easy to some of my family members, especially my dad. We live thousands of miles away and our only way of communication is through phone calls. When I told him that I added Gender and Women’s Studies as a second major, a long silence came after. He wasn’t impress or happy about my decision, but he did not stop me at all. Later on I realized that when I told him about my second major, that it implied to him that I was also saying that I am a feminist. His view of feminism and feminists was vastly different than mine, though – he saw it as breaking away from cultural gender norms, and at the same time breaking traditional family values in a damaging way . Yet, as the months passed by, every time that he would call he would ask me to share something with him about my women’s studies classes. We started having long conversations and arguments on the phone regarding women’s right and women’s issues. They were long, fascinating, and surprisingly enjoyable. Over time, he would often put the phone on speaker just so other people around him would benefit from our talk! It was great to see that how his support for my interests had grown by simply just having conversations with him.
During the same time that this evolution with my father was taking place, I began to discover TED Talks. These short videos would soon become one of my favorite things. One that has stood out to me that most is titled “This Isn’t Her Mother’s Feminism.” I can relate to her story and her path of getting involved in activism and feminism. I love the diversity of thoughts that she bring up here. How I define and see feminism might be very different of how my classmates or professor defines it, just as it may be different for my various family members. I believe seeing and understanding these differences, are needed and at the same time beautiful.
What has been your experience of coming to feminism? When did you realize your first identified as a feminist? What conflicts or bridges has this created for you between family members or friends? Share your thoughts via comments… or better yet, join us in person for the International Women’s Day Brown Bag Discussion* on Wednesday, March 10th at 12pm in the Women’s Center!
*Please note this event is co-sponsored with the English Language Institute at UMBC and due to the cultural norms and expectations of several of the students, this event will be open to those who identify as women only.
This is a guest post from Emily, a high school intern in the Women’s Center. Since she first started interning here in September, Emily has been helping the Women’s Center director research resources and data related to university child care (based on UMBC’s on-campus childcare facility closing in September 2013) and is helping with Take Back the Night. This is a piece that comes out of a larger research paper she is working on for her internship class about why on-campus child care is essential to the success of college student parents.
We are intentionally posting this blog post during the week of Critical Social Justice because we believe that access to affordable and quality childcare for all families everywhere is a social justice issue. Furthermore, access to affordable and quality childcare in America can and should take on a deeper intersectional approach that includes looking through the lenses of race, socioeconomic status, and gender. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences related to childcare and the concept of access to affordable and quality childcare as a social justice issue.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Imagine: you are a college student with a child or children; perhaps you even do fit this description. Between working and taking classes, you have no choice but to rely on child care to look after your children. It is the beginning of the school year, you have found a steady rhythm of dropping off your kids, going to work and class, and picking them up. One evening, you go to pick up you child from childcare and you’re given the news: Effective immediately, the center you relied on, the one that made it possible for you to be superman or woman between work and school and kids, is now closed. What are you going to do? Bring your rambunctious four year old to lecture?
As you may have heard, on September 19, the child care center at UMBC closed suddenly due to water and structural damage (Baltimore Sun Article). Plans on how to address the closing of the center and next steps are moving slowly, and it is important to understand how accessible, affordable, and quality child care can benefit parenting college students.
23.3%, (that’s 3.7 million) of undergraduate students have dependent children (IWPR Report). Half of these student parents (1.9 million), are single parents (IWPR Report). Childcare is a top concern for 72.4% of student parents in a 2012 study of student parents at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Child care is often unaffordable and unavailable. In 2012, tuition at a public, 4 year university in Maryland was on average $8,220, while full-time infant care at a Baltimore center was on average $11,560 — 40% more expensive than college tuition (Baltimore Sun Article).
Attending college is already expensive without the added costs of child care. More than 40% of student parents work full time or even more in order to meet the demands of their family costs and tuition. Between working and college classes, a college student parent needs extensive, often full time, child care coverage. Especially for college student parents taking evening or weekend classes, or working these hours, as many do, child care becomes more expensive at these non-standard hours.
In addition to high costs, child care is simply often unavailable. Roughly 13,300 Baltimore children under age two need some kind of care, however, facilities can only accommodate up to 20% of them in the city and 27% in the county (See Baltimore Sun Article).
On-campus childcare options are also rather grim. From 2004-2011, public four year institutions with on-campus childcare have decreased from 59.1% to 55.1%. At those with childcare facilities, the “average waiting list was approximately 85% the size of the enrollment of a center, or 90 names of children who need care but for whom there is no space.” Additionally, faculty and staff children were more likely to be served, with only 34% of care slots filled by the children of students.
With all these disadvantages, it is not surprising that student parents are 22% more likely to leave college without a degree after six years than non-student parents (53% versus 31%). Student parents are more likely to drop out of college than they are to graduate. A college education is integral in providing an economically stable and safe situation for student parents and their families. In 2011, the average salary for people with a high school diploma or equivalent was $30,000, compared to $45,000 for those with a bachelor’s degree, about a third greater salary. This trend extends to post-graduates, earning an average of $59,200, again, nearly 33% more than those with a bachelor’s degree. Without affordable and available childcare options, student parents are not likely to graduate, leaving them at a disadvantage for the rest of their careers.
At the moment, UMBC does not have on-site child care. If you are looking for childcare resources, we encourage you to visit the newly created UMBC Moms and Parents myUMBC group page that was created by the Women’s Center to help serve UMBC parents. Also, as mentioned at the top of this post, feel free to share your own experiences related to childcare or why you think access to childcare is a social justice issue.
March is Women’s History Month!
Last year’s Women’s History Month’s national theme was Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The theme honored generations of women who throughout American history have used their intelligence, imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions to the STEM fields. At UMBC we honored last year’s theme by partnering with the Center for Women in Technology (CWIT) to feature some of their amazing students participating in technology in the engineering and information technology fields.
Since last year’s spotlights were so meaningful and successful in highlighting the important work of women in STEM fields, we’re back at it for year two. This year’s national theme is Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment.Though there is no specific mention of STEM, it is impossible to deny that acts of courage and commitment from women (and their allies) in STEM occur everyday. So with that, we are honored to bring you the 2nd Annual CWIT Showcase in honor of Women’s History Month.
The original post can be found at the Women’s Center myUMBC group.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Courtney Melissari, Senior Information Systems Major
Describe what sparked your interest STEM and the journey to choosing your major.
My interest in STEM dates all the way back to when I was a child. I grew up rebuilding old computers with my dad. He never purchased a brand-name computer; we’d always go to computer conventions, buy parts, and build them ourselves. I remember thinking the inside of a computer looked so cool! I was fascinated by all of the different parts and how they came together to run.
As I grew up, I had less and less opportunities to toy with my interests in technology. In high school I became more interested in science and engineering. I joined CWIT in 2010 as a Chemical Engineer. But after programming in ENES 101 that spring, I rekindled my love for technology and switched my major to Information Systems. I ended up exactly where I belong!
Tell us about an internship, research experience or project that you are proud of.
I’m really proud of the IS Capstone project that I completed last fall. My team and I worked with my Dad’s office to evaluate and improve a legacy system that they have in place. It was such a cool experience because it was the first time I had ever worked with a real system at a real business. The project definitely had its challenges, but the experience was so worth-while because our work really made an impact on the way that office does business. It felt good to apply my skills to help them achieve better productivity.
Who are your role models in the engineering or IT field?
My Aunt is actually a huge role model in my life. She was a single mom working at Macy’s who decided to go back to school to pursue Computer Science in a time when there were not many people in the field. She then became a programmer for the State of Maryland and worked on several, important projects during her 30 year tenure. She is the one person I can go to when I need to vent about or discuss anything related to technology and my future career. She is always there with supporting words and thoughtful guidance. I’m lucky to have her as a role model!
In your experience, how has being a woman in engineering or IT demanded character, courage or commitment?
When I started in this program almost four years ago, I was one of the only women in my IT classes. A few years and two internships later, I still find that women are still outnumbered by men in both academia and industry. Because of this, it takes a lot of courage to persist in this field. You have to be very confident in yourself and in your abilities; make yourself known and make sure your voice is heard. Always tell yourself that you are capable and never let anyone convince you otherwise!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Center for Women In Technology (CWIT) is dedicated to increasing the representation of women in the creation of technology in the engineering and information technology fields. CWIT efforts begin with nurturing a strong group of Scholars, grow to building community resources for other women in these majors, extend to fostering a healthy gender climate and ITE pedagogy in College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT) departments, and finally expand into outreach efforts to increase interest in technical careers. A successful program for female-friendly engineering and information technology education at UMBC will help make UMBC a destination for women (and men) interested in technical careers and serve as a national model for other universities.
Learn more about the CWIT community at http://www.cwit.umbc.edu/
For more information about Women’s History events and happenings, visit our myUMBC news posting.
In case you missed the calendar of events for Women’s History Month, here’s another chance to check out the full line up for the 31 days in March!
- All Week: Feminist Art Gallery, Commons Mezzanine Gallery
- UMBC Celebrates Diversity: Women’s History Month Fair,Wednesday, March 5th at 12pm, Commons Main Street
- Returning Women Forum: Self-Care,Wednesday, March 5th at 4pm, Women’s Center
- Women of Color Coalition: #ShadesofRosie,Wednesday, March 5th at 5pm, Women’s Center
- Critical Social Justice 101, Monday, March 3rd at 4pm, UC 310 (postponed due to the snow day)
- Micro-what?! Microaggressions, You, and What It Matters, Tuesday, March 4th at 11am, Commons 332
- Pursuit of Truth Film Screening with Q&A, Tuesday, March 4th at 1pm, Women’s Center
- Passing the Torch: Doing Feminism in Graduate School, Tuesday, March 4th at 3pm, Commons 318 (sponsored by GWST COMM)
- Gender Equality and Cross-Cultural Issues , Wednesday, March 5th at 12:30pm, UC207(sponsored by ELI)
- Craftivism, Wednesday, March 5th at 6pm, Women’s Center
- Feminist Art Workshop, Thursday, March 6th at 3pm, Women’s Center
- Jay Smooth: “On Hip Hop, Race, and Politics: The Way We Talk About Things” Keynote Lecture,Q&A, and Reception, Thursday, March 6th at 7:30pm, UC Ballroom (Check out his interview on Maryland Morning with Shelia Kast)
- Critical Social Justice Reflection: Looking Back, Looking Forward, Friday, March 7th at 11:30am, Women’s Center
- International Women’s Day, Saturday, March 8th
- WILL’s Women’s Health Expo, Monday, March 10th, Commons Main Street
- Evolution of Birth Control, Monday,
March 10th at 5pm, Common Skylight Room (Sponsored by UHS Health Education)
- International Women’s Day Film and Discussion: Glass House documentary, Monday, March 10th at 4:30pm, Women’s Center
- Body Image DIY Craft Event, Tuesday, March 11th at 12pm, Women’s Center
- Faizun Kamal: “Ending Systemic Poverty Through Empowerment & Partnership“, Tuesday, March 11th at 7:30pm, Skylight Room (Sponsored by OSL’s Mosaic Center)
- International Women’s Day Brown Bag Lunch Discussion, Wednesday, March 12th at 12pm, Women’s Center
- Mother’s Group Meeting: Exploring Sibling Rivalries, Friday, March 14th at 10am, Women’s Center
- Between Women Meeting, Tuesday, March 25th at 4pm, Women’s Center
- GWST COMM Book Club Discussion: Thief, Wednesday, March 26th at 12pm, Sherman A-220
- Women of Color Coalition Meeting,Wednesday, March 26th at 5pm, Women’s Center
- WILL Open Meeting, Wednesday, March 26th at 7pm, Women’s Center
- Galentine’s Day(Rescheduled from 2/13), Thursday, March 27th at 12pm, Women’s Center