Wake Forest joins White House initiative on women, girls of color

Wake Forest joins White House initiative on women, girls of color
November 19
00:00 2015

Special to The Chronicle

Wake Forest University is among a group of two dozen colleges, universities and public interest organizations that collectively announced $18 million in commitments to support and improve academic research about women and girls of color.    

The announcement on Friday, Nov. 13, came during a daylong summit on “Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color” co-hosted by White House Council on Women and Girls and the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University.

Wake Forest Provost Rogan Kersh introduced the “Collaborative to Advance Equity through Research” to publicly affirm the critical need for research about women and girls of color and commit resources of member institutions to pursuing and supporting this research.

The specific form of commitments varies according to the unique mission, structure, and resources of each member institution. Wake Forest’s commitment includes more than $1.4 million in ongoing support for the Anna Julia Cooper Center’s research focused on intersectional scholarship, established scholars and junior scholars whose work focuses on women and girls of color, and post-doctoral fellowships for scholars researching related questions related to gender, race and place. 

“Women of color will constitute more than half of all women in the United States by 2050, but they are infrequently the central subjects of scholarly inquiry,” said Kersh, a prominent social scientist who also serves as a professor of politics and international affairs. “This research deficit has meaningful consequences for the ways our institutions contribute to public discourse and policy making. As part of the collaborative, Wake Forest is proud to be among such a distinguished group of institutions that seeks to address this deficit.” 

By bringing together stakeholders from the academic, private, government and philanthropic sectors who are committed to increasing opportunity and empowerment for women and girls of color and their peers, the summit examined the existing landscape of research focused on women and girls of color, the gaps in knowledge or data that need to be addressed, and the kinds of work that can swiftly and substantively improve the ability to make informed policy choices.

More than 30 speakers and panelists participated, including:   

*Valerie Jarrett, Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls and Senior Adviser and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

*Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney General

*Tina Tchen, Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls and Chief of Staff for the First Lady

*Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council

*Teresa Younger, CEO of the Ms. Foundation

“I am extraordinarily proud that Wake Forest University has taken a leadership role convening this meaningful initiative. These commitments are consequential and I genuinely believe the work supported by the institutions of the collaborative will advance the cause of equity and justice for women and girls of color,” said Presidential Endowed Professor Melissa Harris-Perry, director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center. She also gave remarks and moderated a panel at the conference. “This is about fulfilling the core mission of our university to produce world class scholarship and first rate teaching that is in the service of humanity, Pro 41Humanitate.”

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