Two Georgetown graduate student groups were awarded a combined $5,000 grant by the American Association of University Women to continue their work in advancing female leadership in business and science.
The funds will be used to support women in fields where they are currently underrepresented, with the grant directed to Georgetown Graduate Women in Business and Women in Science and Education, according to Daniela Rodriguez (GRD ’20), GWiB co-president.
GWiB and WISE collaborated to apply for the grant, which required a proposal for how they would advance women leadership using the funds. The AAUW announced the grant winners Feb. 11.
The grant money will go far in supporting their goal of advancing women, according to Rodriguez.
“Both WISE and GWiB leaderships are very excited to receive this grant, which is a consequence of hard work and dedication,” Rodriguez wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Our primary goal is to empower graduate women and men who work to lift women at Georgetown, and this grant will permit us to have a significant impact on our community.”
The graduate groups are using the funds to host a series of events, which was initially proposed in their grant application. The programming will focus on gaining confidence, improving negotiation skills and helping other women, according to Rodriguez.
“Our joint initiative is to advance the professional skills of female graduate students while emphasizing how to overcome obstacles traditionally faced by women,” Rodriguez wrote.
The groups co-designed programming with three events: a negotiation workshop, anti-harassment and bystander training, and an event featuring author Valerie Young. Young is set to speak about impostor syndrome, a phenomenon where women fear that they are not worthy of leadership roles.
“This tendency to discount or diminish obvious evidence of our abilities is called the imposter syndrome,” Young said in a June 2017 TED Talk. “Some of the coping mechanisms are things like flying under the radar — not raising your hand, not asking for promotions, not giving your ideas and sharing in meetings.”
Of the 500 largest companies in America, only 24 have female chief executive officers, according to Fortune. Young’s event will teach women methods to identify imposter syndrome and overcome these negative sentiments to realize their leadership potential, according to Allison O’Connell, WISE president.
By discussing obstacles women face in the professional world, the events will fill a gap that is often missing from coursework, according to O’Connell.
“Together, we feel these events will teach professional skills that, while are essential for successful careers, are often overlooked in traditional graduate student curricula,“ O’Connell wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The projects organized by the student groups are important steps in advancing equity through supporting the professional development of women, according to Kimberly Churches, the chief executive officer of the American Association of University Women.
“I look forward to seeing the impact these projects — and the students who are responsible for them — will have on our society in the years ahead,” Churches said in a Feb. 11 news release.
In deciding which organizations should receive grant funds, AAUW focused on the long-term effects the groups will have, according to Andrea Martinez, a manager in fellowships at AAUW.
“We’re looking at what impact they’re creating. Not just the number, like how many women they’re impacting, but, ‘What is the potential for this to have long-term implications on the campus?’” Martinez said in an interview with The Hoya. “Is this something that can continue on when these women are no longer receiving funding from us?”
AAUW’s Campus Action Project also gave grants to organizations at 10 other universities that seek to advance women in leadership, according to Martinez. In addition to women’s leadership, the association also works to support female economic security and education and training.