Strong UH women still fighting

Black women have made significant strides at UH for equality despite the long and difficult path.

The role of women has been transformed for the better and’ – with work – can become more substantial.’

‘Women have made strides in equal pay and representation in the business/academia professions since the ’60s,’ said Dr. Chinhui Juhn, UH professor of labor and gender economics.

The University has evolved its policies and women are starting to gain a place in higher-level jobs.

‘Women are getting degrees on par with men,’ she said.

But equal opportunities in education haven’t erased the existence of the ‘glass ceiling.’

‘Glass ceilings are related first to gender then to race,’ Juhn said.’

Juhn suggests that more family-friendly environments are needed to bridge this chasm.

According to a report by the UH Commission on Women, women make up 10 percent of the Board of Regents, 11 percent of the highest level of university administration, 7 percent of the deans, 25 percent of faculty senators and 26 percent of student government senators.

The only area of leadership that has a majority of women is staff council. These figures have increased tremendously since the ’60s. However, we still have far to go.

‘African-American women today are able to play a larger role and exert more influence, especially in our generation,’ mathematics and economics junior Kemi Bello said.

‘The prevalence of strong, well-educated, well-spoken African-American women such as Condoleezza Rice and Michelle Obama have put cracks in the glass ceiling, but the ceiling still unfortunately remains intact.’

Obama, Rice, Hillary Clinton – these women have reached the very top positions of our society. They hold places in our government, have prestigious degrees and have set an example for all women and young girls to aspire to do whatever they dream of.

‘There seems to be a negative connotation attached to the identity of a ‘strong black women’ or any ‘strong woman’ that needs to be re-evaluated,’ Bello said. ‘The message being sent to young minority girls is one of submission to the male dominated workforce.

‘Instead, they need to learn of the existence of female leaders and CEOs such as Meg Whitman of Ebay, or Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf president of Liberia, or (Chancellor) Angela Merkel of Germany.’

Consider Marguerite Ross Barnett. Not only was she UH’s first black president, but she was first black woman to lead a major U.S. university. She is an inspiration to all Cougars.

Barnett was responsible for expanding the level of scientific research, improving the level of undergraduate teaching, creating the Texas Center for the Study of the Environment and also creating the Texas Center for University-school partnerships.

At the time of her death, she was the nation’s highest-ranked black woman college administrator.

Barnett was an amazing examples of progress. Her leadership is evidence that UH is an exemplary example of a diverse campus that is continuing to grow.

‘I think all women, regardless of race, are still subject to the glass ceiling, but that women of color – be it African-American, Asian, Latina or otherwise – are at a further cultural disadvantage,’ Bello said.

In order to grow we need to focus on ensuring that more than adequate childcare facilities are in place and that women have the resources to continue their education or career at UH.

The need to continually raise the bar and heave rocks at the glass ceiling should be a part of the Cougar agenda until the challenges and factors of inequalities dissipate.

‘I do believe women are still a minority; however, that status can absolutely be changed,’ Bello said.

Andrew Taylor is an economics junior and may be reached at [email protected].

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