Young Women Leading the Way: We Need to Listen

This week we celebrated International Women’s Day in heartfelt appreciation of all the significant roles women play in and contributions they make to our society. However, gender inequalities persist for women, especially women of Black and Brown ethnicity, notably in the social sciences. Building young women scholars into leaders to help solve key social issues can help change this differential. WomenNC, a small nonprofit in Raleigh, North Carolina, has been collaborating with local universities such as UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, North Carolina State University, and North Carolina Central University, among others, for a decade to effect change in addressing gender inequality. WomenNC selects scholars from these schools to address local gender inequities from research to advocacy. WomenNC in collaboration with the RTI Global Gender Center provides leadership skills and research methods training for young scholars to learn how to solve problems through action research, which seeks transformative change through the simultaneous process of taking action and doing research that are linked together by critical reflection. WomenNC scholars are femtored by women scientists affiliated with the RTI Global Gender Center and receive feedback and guidance on their journey of discovery. These young scholars uncover a social issue and research topic they are passionate about. After conducting the necessary research, they advocate with local leaders and provide recommendations for potential solutions. Recently, our scholars’ work was accepted for presentation at the UNWomen’s Commission on the Status of Women, covering such topics as COVID-19 and childcare, COVID-19 and housing, COVID-19 and reproductive health, LGBT+ representation in reproductive health education, and green feminine. Some of these topics are under political scrutiny in schools, but young university women are raising their voices and concerns about disparity and inequality and recommending actionable solutions. If we listen, we can learn a lot from the next generation of women scholars, young leaders, and solution makers. WomenNC is proud to be part of their journey. When women lead, so much gets done!

Wendee M. Wechsberg, Board President


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