We train youth to rigorously investigate instances of gender disparity and inequality in North Carolina communities.
In 2009, we established the prestigious WomenNC Scholars Program, a leadership training program that has trained 61 university students from UNC-CH, Duke, NC State, NC Central, UNC-Greensboro, Shaw University, Meredith College, and Bennett College to conduct research on the status of women in North Carolina and to formulate policy and budget recommendations that address issues of gender inequity.
The WomenNC Scholars Program is comprised of several parts. First is a 5-part workshop series at which student scholars are trained to be advocates, social scientific researchers, and public speakers in addition to learning about the United Nations, particularly about the power and influence of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Then, over an 11-month period, scholars engage in research about the status of women in particular North Carolina communities. They are mentored by social scientific researchers from RTI’s Global Gender Center. Under the direction of Dr. Wendee Wechsberg, her affiliates were paired with student scholars who shared their research interests in order to produce the work that will is showcased in myriad venues, including the NGO Forum at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the Local to Global Forum at RTI, and the Gender and Equity Research Symposium at North Carolina State University. Working individually with “advocacy partners,” direct service and policy professionals, scholars advocate to improve the lives of women and girls in front of local bodies of policy power and authority like county commissions, city councils, and school boards, using their research and subject matter expertise to end gender discrimination.
From the local to the global, WomenNC scholars participate in the engaged research and public policy advocacy that has been a hallmark of the organization since its inception. WomenNC’s Scholars Program has come full circle: North Carolina scholars work on issues of particular concern to citizens of the state and its communities, they then bring their voices, research, and policy initiatives to an international audience at the United Nations, and finally, with new knowledge gained from interaction with their global peers, they then return to the state ready to advocate for change to improve the lives of women and girls back home.
Scholars’ foci have included significant work in Durham where they have produced actionable research about the racialized gender gap, lack of appropriate computer science curricula to attract and retain women in the Durham Public School System, and the how the intersectionality of the HIV diagnoses, intimate partner violence, and lack of affordable housing combine to disadvantage women in this area.