Northeastern was proud to host the 3rd Annual Boston-Wide Women of Color in the Academy Conference on Friday, March 22, from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm. This year’s conference theme was Caring for Self, Caring for the Collective. The conference drew together more than 150 attendees from the greater Boston region who represented a variety of disciplines and various academic positions at their institutions.
Shalanda Baker and Nicole Aljoe, co-chairs of the conference, opened the conference with a warm welcome to the attendees. “We hope that you use this day to reconnect with colleagues and forge new contacts to start a conversation around strategies for self- and community-care,” said by Professor Baker, “to consider ways that we, as a collective of women of color in the academy, might continue to support and elevate each other.” Provost James Bean welcomed conference goers and highlighted the several hires made in recent years, including the university and CSSH’s most recent hires of Rod Brunson and Patricia Williams.
This years’ keynote speakers featured Margaret Woo, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research and Interdisciplinary Education from Northeastern University, and France Winddance Twine, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara. The two speakers shared experiences of their academic journey representing women of color and gave lessons to young scholars and students on how to better navigate their future careers.
“The theme of the conference is so appropriate today, caring for ourselves and caring for the collective,” said by Professor Woo, “It is important to take care of ourselves as well as supporting each other in order to succeed.” Women of color are constantly being challenged and doubted in their positions, which could be diminishing for persons over time. Sharing their own stories, Professor Margaret Woo and Professor France Winddance Twine taught us how to regain ourselves and find our own voice in the academic positions we occupy. Professor Twine spoke about her struggle to find work-life balance as she over-achieved to prove herself worthy of belonging – a symptom of imposter syndrome. Using her own experience as a lesson, Professor Twine encouraged young scholars to find “something that can connect you to a community, and something that you love and are passionate about besides your work that brings you joy.”
Throughout the day, attendees had opportunities to participate in a variety of interactive, hands-on workshops, as well as to network with other women faculty of color throughout the greater Boston region. The panel and workshop break-out sessions discussed topics including finding mentors, mentoring and sponsoring others, early career challenges, negotiation, strategizing a career path, maintaining a scholarly identity as teaching faculty, finding tactics and strategies through mid-career challenges, intersectionality, and microaggressions. The speakers included faculty, community leaders and staff members from various academic institutions including but not limited to Northeastern University, Suffolk University, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, University of Massachusetts Boston, Simmons University, MIT, and Tufts University. Overall, the event was a great success thanks to the hard work of conference organizers and the enthusiasm from participants. The conference underscores Northeastern’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in the academy.
I really like it and enjoy the conference, it is a great opportunity to connect with other women of color who are also getting their PhD and share similar experiences. Being a PhD student meaning that you have to constantly work by yourself, it could be unhealthy in the long run. Networking at conferences like this is a great way to recharge ourselves and to hear about lessons for our future careers.
— Ashley Lazarre, PhD student from the school of global inclusion and social movement at UMass Boston, and a second-time attendee at the Conference.
The Women of Color in the Academy Conference was the brainchild of Northeastern faculty members, Nicole N. Aljoe and Barbara J. Guthrie with the goal of creating a community among women faculty of color across the greater Boston area. The overall conference goal is to facilitate a more diverse academy by enhancing the timely career progression primarily of faculty, but also of postdoctoral scholars and graduate students. The 2019 conference was sponsored by Northeastern University including ADVANCE Office of Faculty Development, Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, Northeastern Crossing, all of the academic colleges in the university, as well as other area institutions, including: Babson College, Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis University, Harvard Faculty of Arts & Sciences Office for Faculty Development, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Lesley University, New England Higher Education Recruitment Consortium, Suffolk University and Tufts University. For more information and photos about the conference, please visit their website.