Are We Still Stuck?

February 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

On February 2, 2013, the Huffington Post released an article about how the top job for women is secretary, which is what it was in 1950. For me I can look at the article a couple of different ways.

My initial reaction to the article was a bit of disbelief. Before I even read the article I had to take a second and think if I agreed with what the title stated. At first I couldn’t believe that being a secretary or an administrative assistant was the top job for when just like in the 1950s. Then I realized that it was very possible. My mother works as an administrative assistant and she’s been doing it for about twenty years.

As I read the article I got the opinion maybe we haven’t moved as far as we thought as women. If the main job we hold is secretary, then maybe we are somewhat stuck. The article seemed to make excuses about why women might hold these positions. In the 1950s it was understandable for women to be secretaries because not many women were getting a college education. However today we say it is because women are told that when entering the workforce the best place to start is as an administrative assistant or some other administrative position.

I’m sure we’ve all heard that saying “You’ve got to work your way to the top.” I personally am a firm believer of this. However is it because we’re women that we hear such things? The article states that no one tells young men to take on these positions, but does that mean that men don’t work their way up to the top? After reading that article I thought about what men may have to go through. Even though no one tells them to take on an administrative position, it doesn’t mean they don’t have to work their way up also. Mail room, anyone?

So on this note, I have to ask – Is it that the majority of us are stuck in the 1950s working the same meaningless job, or is it that women know how the world works? I like to think it is the latter. Women know that we have to work our way up the ladder. If women are getting promotions and raises doing what they are doing then we must be doing something right. Also if no one is telling young men how to start out, then there may be some heartbroken males out there when they find out they can’t go straight to the six figure salary and have to start at the bottom of the workforce.

Another opinion I had was that being an administrative assistant is a demanding job. It requires multiple skills and quite a bit of dedication. And to me when the job is done right, the secretary become an integral part of that work area, and when you lose a good one the effects will show all around the work area. Being an administrative assistant is something to be proud of especially if the job is done right.

Take my mom for an example. She is an administrative assistant in a hospital laboratory. Not only does she do her work, but she also helps the other departments in the laboratory. To me my mom goes above and beyond and there not that people who can do that.

Read the article and see what you think:


The Gender of Valor

January 25, 2013 § 3 Comments

Women in CombatWar is hard. We shouldn’t be making it harder.

This is the attitude of many Americans on the newly lifted ban for woman in combat.  In 1994, Les Aspin (Defense Secretary under former President Bill Clinton) signed a policy memo that excluded women from assignments to units below the brigade level if the unit would be engaged in direct combat. Although the ban has now been lifted, not everyone is ready for women in combat. Jerry Boykin, retired Army Lieutenant General and Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council, argues that men should not be forced to fight alongside women because it will distract from the mission, specifically because it will make soldiers feel awkward to defecate in front of the opposite sex:

Societal norms are a reality, and their maintenance is important to most members of a society. It is humiliating enough to relieve yourself in front of your male comrades; one can only imagine the humiliation of being forced to relieve yourself in front of the opposite sex.

Was it not societal norm to discriminate against colored individuals in the military? Was it not societal norm to exclude women from the military? Was it not societal norm to exclude homosexuals in the military? Is it not societal norm to exclude transgendered individuals in the military today? Societal norm is constantly changing, and it is irrational to halt progress on this basis alone.

Leon E. Panetta stresses that “not everyone is going to be able to be a combat soldier, but everyone is entitled to a chance…We are renewing our commitment to the values our service men and women fight to defend.”

General Dempsey states that by lifting the ban, “we are acting to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service.” Dempsey reassures that “we will extend opportunities to women in a way that maintains readiness, morale, and unit cohesion.”

Will this lifted ban help further the careers of women in the military? Dempsey stresses that “we will integrate women in a way that enhances opportunity for everyone…this means setting clear standards for all occupations based on what it actually takes to do the job.”  Many Americans are concerned that women are not physically “up to the challenge” of combat assignments. However, gender-neutral standards will ensure that if women can meet those standards, then they are similarly fit for the specified duties.

Is having women in direct combat such a radical idea?  Israeli Defense Forces are the only military forces in the world with a mandatory military service requirement for women. Since the Israeli state was founded in 1948, women have fought in their armed The reality on the ground...forces. The 2000 Equality amendment to their Military Service law states that “The right of women to serve in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men.” Now, women comprise over half of all military positions in Israel. It is ironic that, for a country that stresses freedom and equality as much as we do, that we are over a decade behind that of Israel on the inclusion and equality of women in combat zones.

Have women not already proven that they are ready and willing to serve in combat?  More than 150 women have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and over 1000 wounded in recent wars, fighting for our rights so that we can sit here and read blogs about whether they should be allowed to or not. Now this change is expected to open 230,000 front-line positions to women.

Dempsey said it best…”we all wear the same uniform, fire the same weapon, and more importantly, take the same oath.” President Barack Obama considers this yet “another step toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals of fairness and equality.” Let us make our all-volunteer force an all inclusive one. If women are willing to volunteer to defend our country, let us give them the rights that they are fighting for. Valor knows no gender.

-Brandi S.

2013 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Annual Celebration – A Reflection of Issues

January 21, 2013 § Leave a comment


2013 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Celebration

I volunteered to be the Student Chair of the 3rd MLK Student Celebration Annual Student Celebration. I was in charge of recruiting the student performers, emailing the student representatives to participate in the CandleLight Vigil ceremony, editing the program, creating the script, contacting Mr. and Mrs. Georgia Tech, deciding what food to use for the reception, deciding what decorations would best suit this occasion, and act as a “producer” for the event. It was a lot.

I got a chance to hear from student speakers and guest performances, including the Nu Mu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, God’s Influence Flowing Through Every Disciple (G.I.F.T.E.D) gospel choir, my personal friend Shreya Ahuja, and the fabulous Dean Stephanie Ray, who performed a dramatic monologue of Coretta Scott King’s first moments after finding out her husband was assassinated.

What I personally loved most is the inspiring student speakers. There was a common theme in all of the speeches that as a society, America has come a long way in the fight for equality and civil liberties for all, but we still have a long way to go, thus the theme for the event was themed “The Dream and the Journey Continue.” One issue that was mentioned was the inequality and gender discrimination that women still face. Women are still earning 77 cents less than her equal male counterpart. The good news is that our current president is working with Congress to establish legislation that seeks to eliminate gender inequality.

Another issue that was mentioned in one of the student speeches was discrimination based on sexual orientation. While it is still a hot-button issue in today’s society, studies show that more and more Americans are favoring same-sex marriage by small margins. This is due largely in part of more and more LGBT Americans coming out to family and friends and new marriage equality laws being slowly passed in state legislatures.

Of course, poverty is always an issue. Many of us can empathize with low-income, lower-class and middle class families. Poverty may be an issue that may never go away, but I became inspired to help the homeless man on the street corner just by giving him something to eat.

In summary, change does not happen overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? So change for equality will take time as well, but that does not mean that we should sit back and act ambivalent. It was once said, “If you don’t stand for something, then you will fall for anything.” I challenge myself to make my voice heard louder on more issues we as Americans face today, whether it be gender inequality, sexual orientation, poverty, or ambivalence. I just hope that Dr. King himself would be proud of my efforts. Dr. King told his wife “Coretta, don’t tell people that I graduated from Morehouse College. Don’t tell people that I got my Master’s degree from Boston College. Don’t tell people about my Nobel Peace Prize or my various other awards. Instead, tell people that I tried to feed the hungry. Tell people that I tried to clothed the naked. Tell people that I was a drum major for justice, and tell people that I tried to help somebody!!”

– Alfonza L.

GT Alumna on Final Shuttle Mission

July 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Photo Credits: NASA

Georgia Tech Alumna and a 1996 graduate of the Materials Science and Engineering, Sandra Magnus is currently on the final NASA space shuttle mission. Magnus was the only woman in a crew of four and is one of 47 women to have flown in the U.S. space shuttle missions. Magnus is a NASA veteran, having flown twice before on Atlantis (2002) and Endeavor (2008). Prior to last Friday’s  launch of Atlantis, Magnus had flown 55 million miles and had spent over 5 months in the space.

For more information about women in space visit NASA’s page. And, for a fantastic graphic and blog post on women breaking through barriers in space check out Ms. Magazine’s blog.

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