Salary gaps, discrimination, sexual harassment and no mandated paid maternity leave are all hurdles working women will face in the United States – but there are people to help.
These were just a few of the issues presented by a panel of speakers from Dixie State University faculty at the Dixie Forum lecture “International Women in Focus” Sept. 22.
Associate humanities professor Leonor Ceballos, Education Department Chair Chizu Matsubara, associate English professor Theda Wrede, and English instructor Olga Pilkington each gave presentations about the treatment of women in different countries compared to women’s issues in the U.S. They discussed topics such as maternity leave, balancing work and family life, and social attitudes about women in the workplace, as well as shared insights from their own experiences.
“I’m used to having a female family physician; I’ve never heard of a man occupying that particular profession,” Pilkington said while contrasting female dominated occupations in Russia with the U.S.
She said one of the greatest parts of her culture shock in the U.S. was the scarcity of women in jobs that normally many women would have in Russia.
“I’ve kind of got used to my male dentist,” Pilkinton said, drawing laughs from the audience. “I’ve let that one slide.”
The forum was the first of many events the DSU Women’s Resource Center has planned to cater to female students this semester—such as movie showings and lectures.
Florence Bacabac, an associate English professor and director of the WRC, said all the events revolve around the WRC’s mission to promote female students’ academic and professional development. She expressed appreciation for how much the center has grown in its short time on campus.
“We started small a couple years ago as the DSU Women’s Resource Program with me as director, our adviser Dr. Carole Grady and three unpaid student interns,” Bacabac said.
After being approved for the status of “center,” Bacabac said the WRC has been hosting events and collaborating with like-minded organizations that bolster its mission.
Keiran Presland, a senior English major from Brighton, England, and an intern at the WRC, said he didn’t know about the center until the beginning of last year. He became involved as an intern to help promote the center on campus so students could know about the resources the center provides—like facilitating opportunities to find mentors. He said having a mentor has been a beneficial experience.
“Having a mentor has really helped me with questions I have about the future,” Presland said. “If I have issues with papers, they can help me out with something like that. [It helps] really just being able to sit down and talk to somebody for a half an hour when you need someone to talk to who can help you with experiences that maybe they’ve had in their past.”
Bacabac encouraged students to contact the center to share their own stories about mentoring.
“We believe these stories are powerful and can encourage others to seek out female-to-female mentoring relationships to achieve academic and professional success,” Bacabac said.
The WRC also provides female students with opportunities for scholarships and internships, and in conjunction with the DOVE Center of St. George, it offers free advocacy for survivors of sexual assault at regular Wednesday meetings.
Both female and male students can get involved by connecting with the WRC on Facebook and Twitter and attending the events on campus.
“We see a bright future for the center to create a strong impact on campus,” Bacabac said.