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Academia versus Industry
for African American Women in Engineering: A Comparison of the Political
Taylor, Valerie E.
The number of African
American women in the field of engineering is extremely small. Numerous
discussions have been focused on the political climate as a deterrent
factor. It is unclear whether the industry or academia has the better
political climate for African American women. The goal of this panel is to
have an open discussion about the political climate in the industry versus
academia. In particular, the discussion will focus on the politics that
occurs when one attempts to progress in her field either through the
publication of papers, invited presentations, satisfied product deadlines
or the tenure and promotion process.
Surviving the Tenure
African American Women in the Professorate.
Thomas, Veronica G.
For individuals in the
academy, obtaining tenure is a significant milestone in one’s career.
African American women, however, are less likely to hold tenured positions
in institutions of higher education than their White male and female
counterparts. Given the competing demands of work and family life, as well
as the political climate at many colleges and universities, the tenure
track can be particularly stressful for African American women. Tenure
decisions, like other decisions in the workplace are not made in an
atmosphere free of race and gender bias. Discriminatory attitudes
oftentimes result in differential evaluations of African American female
faculty. Three major systematic factors which may negatively influence
tenure reviews and decisions regarding the overall "worth" of
African American women in the academy include the fact that: (1) all
female faculty, including African American women in the academy, tend to
receive lower economic rewards in terms of salaries and associated fringe
benefits than men, (2) and white female counterparts, and (3) there is
generally a devaluing of the work of African American female faculty in
This presentation will
offer effective strategies for coping while on the tenure track and for
increasing the likelihood of a successful tenure review. These approaches
stress reliance on African American women’s inner strengths and
intrapsychic resources, socio-cultural factors, and professional
connections. Emphasis will be place on the importance of establishing
certain personal and professional patterns early in one’s academic
career. The development of mechanism for "regrouping" in the
event of a negative tenure review will also be offered.
American Women: Crossing Boundaries with New Perspectives.
Thomas, Veronica G.
Within the last two
decades, feminist psychologists (mostly White) and African American
psychologists (mostly male) have been fairly successful in focusing
attention on the need to transform psychology from a science focusing
exclusively on the behavior of White male human and male animals to one in
which the behavior of women and people of African descent are considered.
Despite the fairly recent attention given to the issue of diversity in the
field of psychology, there is still almost a paucity of theorizing and
empirical research on African American women. Mainstream psychology has
consistently excluded, misrepresented, or trivialized the life patterns of
African American girls and women. The fact that African American women
belong to two groups who have been traditionally relegated to low status
in this society probably contributes significantly to the invisibility of
this population in theories and research in psychology.
The experiences of African
American women have formed a unique context for their study in psychology.
Their uniqueness stems from the fact that they stand at the crossroads of
two of the most well developed ideologies in American--one regarding women
and another regarding African Americans. If psychology is indeed the
science of behavior, the systematic neglect of study of certain segments
of the population is problematic and results in a psychological knowledge
base that is faulty, inadequate, and incomplete. Therefore, one challenge
to the field of psychology is to identify, isolate, and explain the unique
experiences of African American women and the impact of these experiences
on the attitudes, motivations, behaviors, and psychological well-being of
This presentation will
discuss the systematic devaluing of African American women in the field of
psychology, and it will challenge the discipline to become more inclusive.
In particular, the objectives of this presentation are threefold: (1) to
provide a meaning and implicit set of core values for a "psychology
of African American women," (2) to introduce a comprehensive model
for better understanding factors influencing the psychological study of
African American women, and (3) to present a framework for reconstructing
psychology to ensure that theoretical and empirical work on African
American women is valued and well-grounded.
African American Women and
the Challenge of Fibroid Tumors.
Tolliver, Derise E.
Uterine fibroid tumors are
one of the most common health problems experienced by women, in general,
during their reproductive years. It is estimated that at least 40% of
premenopausal American women live with these growths. The incidence of
fibroids in African American women, however, is 3 to 5 times higher than
in their European American counterparts, with no clear reason why. This
paper discusses the health challenges that uterine fibroid tumors pose for
African American women, considers the contexts within which the tumors
flourish, and highlights a number of healing options available to those
who are living with this problem.
Women and Kinship Politics in Cote
Toungara, Jeanne M.
Women's political activism
among the diverse ethics of Cote d’Ivoire had been largely kinship based
until the recent transition to multiparty democracy forced them to support
candidates whose platforms extend beyond the narrow limitations of
regional or ethnic concerns. This paper highlights women's roles as
mothers and kingmakers among the Malinke, Queens and state formers among
the Baule, supporters and leaders of party sub-sections in the Parti
Democratique de Cote d'Ivoire, Assemblywoman and Ministers at the national
level and, finally, major players in multiethnic parties in politics.
Ivorian women have made an important leap from family to national politics
and are leading the way toward an emerging national agenda.
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Staying in the Pipeline:
African American Females and the Pursuit of Graduate Degrees in Science.
Walters, Nancy B.
(1975)-retention model provided the theoretical framework for this study
of the academic and social integration of academically talented African
American female students into the graduate science degree pipeline. The
site for this study was the Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research
Program of the University of Minnesota. This program recruits academically
talented undergraduates from throughout the nation for participation in
two months of research academic study, and orientation to science graduate
and professional programs. The qualitative data source consisted of
one-on-one interviews of four African American female summer program
alumni. The results demonstrated the importance to the program alumni
interviewed of the challenging academic research work, the personally
confirming peer group socialization and the supportive student faculty
interactions. The study
showed the importance of programs like these for helping African American
female students plan upper level college study and graduate/professional
Kara Walker, Harriet
Jacobs and a Sentimental Romancing of Black Dixie.
White, Artress B.
This essay explores the
connections between Harriet Jacobs’ 1861 freedom narrative and how it
served as an influence for the controversial artwork of visual artist Kara
Walker. The work looks at the genre of narrative memoir and the hazards it
holds for African American women via cultural stereotypes, and then segues
to a discussion of how images of Black female desire have been influenced
by images of White sexuality. The paper concludes with a discussion of the
dangers of subverting stereotypical images in order to edit cultural
frames of reference and the types of responses it can garner from academic
and Black arts communities.
History and Other Stories: Ruminations of a Young Black Female History
Williams, Rhonda Y.
"Teaching Black Women’s
History and Other Stories" is a series of contemplation’s about
daily events which reveal issues confronted by a neophyte Black female
professor who, like many others, has a minimal (if non-existent) support
system and/or cohort of other Black female professors at the university
where she works. In this "diary-paper," she is a new, young
professor in the academy who wrestles with the problems in the classrooms,
as a way to approach broader issues of invisibility, pedagogy authority,
and professorial expectations.
The paper is comprised of
primarily four stories: "Pedagogy: Teaching Change, Teaching to
Change and the ‘Nine Lives’ of Typicality" is a discussion of
establishing and incorporating a pedagogy of transformation and what
happens when a professor, dedicated to such a pedagogy, is confronted with
a moment when the notion of progress and change is ambiguous at best; when
the monstrous concepts that demean and thwart humanist struggle are
reincarnated. "On Preparation and Alienation" is a discussion of
classroom dynamics and exchange both among students and between students
and instructor in the Black Women’s History course. How should one deal
with ill-prepared students or unprepared students, racial insensitivity,
silence, frustration, and alienation that can emerge in the classroom?
"The ‘Rho-Rho’ Incident" raises the issues of authority,
legitimacy, and mentoring between Black female professors and primarily
Black female students. I conclude the diary with "You Probably Didn’t
Even Know" What does it mean to be viewed as a role model? This short
piece unveils the pressure one feels (and the needs we also have as
professors), especially when "you" are one of very few, and you
are trying to keep psychically healthy, keep your soul in-tact; and fight
for a greater purpose in White academe.
Teaching Black Women’s
History and Other Stories does not offer all the answers as much as the
examples, particularly in the form of situations, conversations, and
dialogues with the students. The issues she raises are far from being
resolved; the class is in itself in motion. For that reason alone, this
paper is necessarily a work-in-progress. It is also an example of Black
feminist pedagogy in practice, the voicing, negotiating, and compiling
stories--attempting not only to document, but also to work through the
critically and daily challenges in the academy. It is through this process
that she makes an attempt to change and grow as a professor, a critical
thinker, and young Black woman dedicated to the struggle and change.
Going to the Show: Black
Female Spectatorship, Subjectivity and Sexuality in the 1930s.
This paper will examine the
career of African American journalist Alice Dunbar-Nelson as a cultural
critic who turned her eye to motion pictures and devoted a considerable
portion of her regular weekly columns: "From a Woman’s Point of
View," "Une Femme Dit," and "As in a Looking
Glass," to recording and sharing her responses to Hollywood film with
her readers. Materials edited by Gloria T. Hull, including not only
newspaper columns but also Dunbar-Nelson’s diary, provide the sources
for exploring some important questions concerning the historical
development of Black female subjectivity: How did Dunbar-Nelson negotiate
her relationship to this emerging commercialized art form in an era of Jim
Crow? How did Dunbar-Nelson respond to the presentation off Black female
actors in stereotypical roles and images? How did Dunbar-Nelson connect
her appreciation for the novelty and excitement of motion pictures to her
love for dramatics and her earlier career as a writer of short stories?
The Ultimate Balancing Act:
Black Women in Corporate America and the Challenges of Balancing Work and
Wolfe, Leslie R.; Tucker, Jennifer; Smooth, Wendy G.; Bradford, Martina
L.; Girton-Mitchell, Brenda; & Williams, Elynor.
As the presence of women of
color increases in corporate America at all levels—executive and
management, professional and administrative—the workplace is changing.
But is this changing workplace keeping pace with the needs of African
American women who are struggling to balance the demands of their work and
personal lives with their own ambitions for successful careers? The Center
for Women Policy Studies, along with the Kwasha Lipton Group of Coopers
and Lybrand (now Price Waterhouse Coopers), conducted the National Women
of Color Work/Life Survey with over 1500 women of color in 16 Future 1000
companies to answer this and a host of other questions about workplace
At this session, the Center
will present its survey finding and a panel of senior level African
American women from several corporations will discuss the findings and
their implications for workplace policy. The discussion will address such
issues as the coping strategies African American women use to balance
their work and personal lives while advancing their careers, the link
between work/family and diversity, the intersection of sexism and racism
in the corporate workplace and the essential elements of supportive,
nurturing workplace cultures for African American women. This session also
will offer participants an opportunity to explore the workplace
similarities for African American women in the academy and corporate