July 2016

In the Spirit of Paying Tribute
Ava LaVonne Vinesett
Faculty Director
A few short weeks ago, with laughter, hugs, slide shows and salty tears we celebrated the graduation of our ninth class of Baldwins.  Parents, siblings, grandparents, extended family, a toddler Baby-Baldwin, friends and faculty were all present to watch their Baldwin receive her certificate and tribute.  Acknowledging accomplishments and struggles during the Baldwin Scholars experience is a tradition of the Baldwin graduation. When our seniors take their place in the center of the stage, they come with a host of experiences.  Striving to balance one’s health and well-being with coursework, independent research, service learning, leadership activities, internships, social activities, work issues, and personal relationships is essential.  At times, a challenging experience can rock a student to her core, yet she stands center-stage while family members, eyes brimming with tears, silently—and sometimes not so silently—testify to the beauty of that imperfect road.
We celebrate that imperfect road because it takes a great deal of courage, effort, intellectual flexibility, and emotional strength to navigate its curves and potholes.  If we allow ourselves to be seduced by an “I woke up like this” toxic standard, we’re prioritizing the often-discussed “Duke mask” of social visibility, over our own mental and physical health.
In living our truth, with its detours, stops, and constant merges, perhaps we can accept that the mistakes, failures, and flaws we experience inform academic, personal and professional successes. These missteps are opportunities to grow, learn and develop our deepest ambitions and passions; they allow us to be the fullest version of ourselves. 
During the African Dance module of the 2016 Baldwin first-year seminar, one student wrote:
…if the environment I’m seeking doesn’t yet exist, why not create it myself?  What’s stopping me other than the fear of judgment or rejection?
The frictions, conflicts and crises we navigate deepen our capacity to tilt towards resilience, authenticity and brilliance. We are works in progress with power and inspiration resting on our tongues.  Paying tribute recognizes the spirit of our diverse group of women, young women who, from their initial interviews as candidates to returning alumnae, continue to work towards meeting the charge of the program: What will you do to change the culture at Duke and in society?
Glamour Magazine
College Women of the Year

Congratulations to Suhani Jalota, Class of 2016 Baldwin Scholar and grand prize winner of the 2016 Glamour contest!

Suhani is the founder and CEO of the Myna Mahila Foundation, a network of young female entrepreneurs in slum communities in India who produce low-cost high-quality products. Her company now has a staff base of seven employees and four on the board of directors, and she plans to triple her staff as she receives new grants. Currently, she has one manufacturing unit in a slum in Mumbai that employs young women in the slums to manufacture, market, and distribute sanitary pads. Her goals are not only to develop a business that can be sustained by the local women and to create a positive buzz around menstrual hygiene and health, but also to promote hope, helping the women visualize a future for themselves and their families. 
Anne-Marie Slaughter

The Baldwin Scholars program is proud to announce that foreign policy expert Anne-Marie Slaughter will be speaking on campus on October 13 in Page Auditorium. Her topic will be: Global Hot Spots and Blind Spots.

Tickets (required and free) will be available through the Duke Box Office in early October.

Special thanks to the Muglia family for their continued support of the Jean Fox O'Barr Distinguished Speaker Series.
Gifts to Baldwin

We are grateful to the following individuals and corporations for believing in our mission and financially supporting our efforts.

AT&T (matching gift)
Kelley Akhiemokhali, Class of 2008 Baldwin Scholar
Shari Baker, Class of 2010 Baldwin Scholar
William Hammond (parent of Katie Hammond, Class of 2018 Baldwin Scholar)
Manjusha Kulkarni, T'91
Rachel McLaughlin, Class of 2008 Baldwin Scholar
Swathi Padmanabhan, Class of 2010 Baldwin Scholar
Peter Schwaller, E'89
Ed and Diane Wright (parents of Emma Wright, Class of 2017 Baldwin Scholar)
Mother-Daughter Weekend

Over 40 mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and aunts traveled to Duke in February to participate in Mother-Daughter Weekend.  Our guests learned about the Baldwin experience, took an African dance lesson (photos above), explored their results on the Fascination personality assessment, and had tea at the Washington Duke Inn.
2016 Unsung Heroine

Yossra Hamid was selected as the 2016 Baldwin Scholars Unsung Heroine.

The Unsung Heroine Award recognizes a woman who has demonstrated extraordinary dedication to issues that face women at Duke or in the larger community, but whose efforts have not received formal recognition.

Yossra Hamid graduated with the Class of 2016, with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Arabic. She was dedicated to the Muslim Students Association, as Civic Engagement Chair as well as President. She also served as a Resident Assistant for three years in Jarvis and Keohane.
From Yossra’s nomination:
Yossra Hamid served as President of the Muslim Student Association for the 2015-16 academic year. In this role, she spearheaded many programs dedicated to women, striving to provide safe spaces, equality and access to her peers.  One of the biggest, most controversial, and impactful changes that she championed, with support from her MSA colleagues, was  “gender adjacent Friday prayers (Jummah).” A majority of Muslim women, when in a mixed gender setting, must pray behind the men. In many mosques, women are relegated their own spaces to pray. Too often, these spaces are not adequate for the women. Many of the Muslim women who have come to Duke have emotional and mental scars from being forced into these less than suitable spaces for prayer. When they come to Duke, they don’t come to prayers because of their previous anxieties and the desire to not feel “less than” their male counterparts.  Yossra, hearing the pain of her sisters, implored her fellow Muslims to try arranging Jummah a different way. Rather than having women sit behind the men, she asked, “Why not side by side?” She held discussion sessions to listen to the community and even sent out a poll in order to let all have a voice. The community responded positively, and Duke is now one of the few Muslim communities where women do not pray behind the men.  To an outside observer this seems like a small problem with an easy fix. However, changing the prayer space in many communities is a huge taboo. Yossra was able to get the space changed with little to no resistance, which speaks to her ability to lead the community with a gentle but firm hand.
In addition, Yossra also arranged two all female jummah’s this year. These are even more rare than having a Friday prayer where men sit next to women. Having a prayer space where only women were allowed, where they were able to make the call to prayer, hear a sermon for themselves, and pray without having to consider their juxtaposition to men, was extremely powerful. Women did not want to leave the space. They had never experienced something like it before and probably never will once they leave this campus. The healing that happened within that space was amazing.
Yossra has always pushed her fellow female students to write sermons for Friday prayers, to take positions of power in different organizations, and to make their voices heard. She strives to make the Muslim community at Duke as inclusive as possible. Her work has not gone unnoticed by people in the greater Muslim community, and people are often in awe of her tenacity and strength.
Reunions 2016

Class of 2011 alumnae returned to campus in April for a dinner and panel discussion with current Scholars.
Miho Kubagawa (T'07) and Stephanie Downey Toledo are candidates for the Doctor of Education Leadership degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Their article appears in Harvard's Usable Knowledge blog.
A New Pitch for Parity:
Confronting the Biases That Stand in the Way of Gender Equity in Educational Leadership

“You look like a superintendent.”

That was the written feedback that a male classmate received after a class presentation last fall. A female classmate received a different kind of “feedback.”

“Nice shoes.”

This was our lightbulb moment, begging the question: How do our implicit biases affect our views of who can be a leader? Despite the fact that three out of four public school teachers are women, nearly three out of four superintendents are men. Of the 25 largest school districts in the country, women lead fewer than a third. The numbers are even more sobering for women of color. Not surprisingly, a quick Google search of “state school superintendents” results in images of leaders who are overwhelmingly pale and male.

As students in the Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, we know that this is not about a talent gap. Women represent roughly 60 percent of our Ed.L.D. alumni network of 100 education leaders, many of whom are at the top levels of school districts and organizations across the country. And yet, at our country’s current rate, it will take more than 75 years for us to reach gender parity in the superintendent position.

This cannot be our reality.

While we work toward a more just system that gives all children equal access to an excellent education, we simultaneously seek a more just sector that enables all women who strive for positions at the top to reach their full potential. This is why we are launching SponsHER, a venture that pushes for gender equity at the most senior levels of the largest and leading school districts, charter management organizations, and nonprofits. 

Instead of urging women to “lean in” and “say yes,” we’re urging organizations to be the change by deliberately cultivating talented women at all levels. One way to do that is to formally identify individuals who are in positions of influence and power who can commit to sponsoring aspiring female leaders through growth opportunities and advocacy for promotions. Research shows that men are sponsored, formally and informally, more frequently, while women are overwhelmingly over-mentored and under-sponsored. By asking organizations to develop leadership plans for talented women and people of color, managers and leadership teams actually begin to walk the walk of diversity and inclusion, resulting in more creativity, greater innovation, and better results.

We know this is not groundbreaking. In fact, many organizations — from Wall Street to Silicon Valley — are leading the way in pursuing gender equity. Last month, we joined 5,000 activists from all 50 states and of all gender identities at the White House for a summit on the United State of Women, where we had the chance to engage in meaningful dialogue around a wide range of issues affecting women, including how to break barriers and shatter glass ceilings. We heard how Google, Dropbox, and NASA are working to support the development and retention of talented women. We also got to hear directly from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and First Lady Michelle Obama, among many others, on their commitment to gender equity.

As educators, we have a lot to learn from organizations that put their commitment to equity at the top of the agenda. While the three-day summit was a celebration of how far we have come as a nation, the continuing challenge is clear: men and women hold unconscious biases that stand in the way of gender equity in leadership — and we all have a role to play in confronting these biases. Be attentive to workplace norms. In meetings, who gets air time and who gets interrupted? When it’s time to hire and promote, are candidates diverse in representation and backgrounds? When it comes to retention, are workplace policies family friendly? No parent should have to choose between work or family, especially if her career is just about to take off in the organization.

And above all, seek to make gender equity our collective challenge, one we'll tackle together — not just “her” issue to tackle alone. That way, the next time an aspiring female leader is seeking feedback after a presentation, we can talk to her about her career, not her shoes.

Intern Spotlight: Zarah Udwadia, Class of 2017

This summer I am researching the intersection between art and feminist activism in Mexico City for my thesis in Visual and Media Studies. I spend my days speaking to artists, curators and academics, and visiting museums and archives (that have glaringly inadequate documentation of women artists), to understand how various forms of art, from music to performance to painting, are being used for protest against gender based violence. The people I have interviewed have diverse views on art and its potential- while some focus on the museum space and the art world, some take their performance to the streets, and others are creating alternate channels of dialogue.

I chose to research this topic as a way to reconcile my interest in art and women’s rights. Among the innumerable works created by the artists I interviewed, one of my favorites was ‘Estados de Excepción’ (‘States of Exception’), by artist and cultural activist Lorena Wolffer. The intervention was simply a large banquet table set up in various public areas of Mexico City, where women passersby inclined to participate could come together to eat lunch and share experiences- a visible, communal expression of women’s joy and liberty.

As I write my thesis, I will spend the year delving into the complexities that underlie the use of art as feminist activism, but for now, this reimagining of public space, in a time of rampant gender based violence and femicides in Mexico and across the world, is one of the many reminders that art can heal, expose and transform. And that is exactly what this project has done for me in my time in Mexico.
Baldwins Take Over NYC!

Liz Fuller (far left in photo, T'82, Baldwin parent, Duke NY Women's Forum leader) graciously hosted a luncheon for current and alumnae Baldwin Scholars in New York for the summer.

How many Baldwins does it take to change the world?  One.  But here's a photo of 20+!
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