Exploring Research Topics

Question 1How do we draw a link between the educated women on college campuses and the problem of the lack of education for girls in third world countries?

Background / My Motivation:  The organization Girl Up raises awareness and money for the lack of education for girls in developing countries. The movement participants are mostly high school students, but college students can make an impact in this movement as well. I’m interested in investigating this topic because I’m a girl and I know how important getting an education is.

Information / Arguments: I hope to find that many college students have an interest in this topic. I also want to find more evidence that there are already similar movements on campuses. I would argue that besides Doctors and Engineers Without Borders, there should be “Educators Without Borders” or other similar programs. I would also argue that college students want to get involved in these types of activities but they can not because they do not exist.

Question 2Why do politicians deny climate change if it is a “sure thing” according to scientists?

Background / My MotivationI trust science because one of the goals of science is to be accurate. Also, I’m a chemical engineering major. I’ve never understood why some politicians don’t acknowledge the effects of climate change and what it’s doing to the planet. Is there some other factor or motivation involved?

Information / ArgumentsI hope to find that there are economic or political goals that motivate the politicians to deny global warming. My arguments will be that climate change is backed by lots of scientific data and that there are many reasons why denying global warming is beneficial for politicians.

Question 3: Is there really a gender wage gap in the United States? If so, what can college students effectively do to reduce the gap?

Background / My Motivation: Everyone knows the slogan, “equal pay for equal work,” which refers to the gender wage gap in the United States. This slogan is old, it has been repeated too many times, and it is hardly effective. Why hasn’t this problem been fixed by now?

Information / Arguments: I hope to find that the gender wage gap has been fixed, but it’s likely that it hasn’t been fixed in all aspects of U.S. labor. Therefore, I will argue that there needs to be a renewed and reinvigorated movement that tackles the problem and finally topples it. This movement, I will argue, will start on college campuses.

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A Platform for Change

As technology becomes increasingly relevant in the twenty-first century, the circulation of thought is increasing in speed and efficiency, allowing ideas to spread from person to person, then state to state, and sometimes, even country to country, within a matter of days. The movement I have chosen to delve into, the anti-rape culture/sexual assault on campus movement, uses the power of online platforms in several ways, one of which is to provide an anonymous way for victims to reach out and speak about sexual assault without disclosing their identity. On platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, victims can discuss their feelings with others who understand what they are going through, and talk about how to cope with post traumatic stress and anxiety that prevent them from reaching out or talking about what happened to the police or school authorities. Another way this movement uses online platforms is to reach out to people about different gatherings, marches, and protests that are happening across the country such as the Anti-Rape Marches and Slut Walks in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York, and several other large metropolitan areas. Facebook groups, especially, are conducive to bringing people together for these events because once one person clicks the “Interested” or “Going” buttons, all of their Facebook friends can see this, and the event instantly gains exposure to all of their hundreds/thousands of friends. In this way, the word gets out quickly, and suddenly, after a mere two days of the event’s online fruition, hundreds of thousands of people are exposed to it, and many of them will decide to attend.it.jpg

Media is also incredibly important to my movement, in that humans, by nature, are visual beings, and photographs and videos tend to appeal to their emotions more than just words. Personally, I feel very empowered when I see pictures on Instagram and Tumblr of women holding up signs that say things like, “I was wearing this when I was raped”, while they are dressed in a simple tee-shirt and jeans, implying that rape has nothing to do with the victim’s clothing, provocative or not. It is NEVER the victim’s fault. Because such visuals are so powerful, I will include many on my webpage, especially on the home tab, in order to catch visitor’s attentions and appeal to their pathos the same way that Instagram posts from the marches appealed to mine.

Advocacy

To me, advocacy means to create a voice for a cause that you believe in, whether it is online, or physically at a march or protest, or just talking to the people around you. It also means that if you are creating this voice, then you have to be able to support the cause with facts and not just say that others should support it because you do. Movements that work/worked to create change that immediately come to mind are Black Lives Matter, women’s suffrage, and the Civil Rights Movement. Some interesting current movements I’d like to explore include environmental justice, conservation, pro-choice, and ecofeminism.

Conservation is one that interests me because part of what I am studying here is Wildlife Conservation and Ecology and I believe it is important to conserve what we still have of the natural world for future generations to enjoy, as well as to keep the earth healthy and in a livable condition. The pro-choice movement is one that I also feel strongly about because I believe it is an important part of women’s rights and health care that could be threatened by the new presidential administration.

A movement that I just learned about recently and find really interesting is ecofeminism. Ecofeminism focuses on all oppressed/dominated groups, including women, people of color, and the natural world. Ecofeminism is one that I find important because it connects different movements that I think are important, such as conservation, preserving nature, and advancing the rights of women and minorities. I think exploring this movement would be interesting because it would bring to light the relationships and connections between different areas of oppression in a male-dominated society. Moving forward with exploring ecofeminism might be difficult because there are many different definitions and interpretations of what “ecofeminism” is really considered because it covers so many areas, but I also think its wide variation of concerns is part of what makes it interesting and important.

My Focus: Girls & Education

by Shannon McNaul

“Movements that Work to Create Change” Word Cloudcloud

My Interests

The movements that I would like to explore are movements related to gender equality and education reform and equality. Some of the specific movements include education for girls in developing countries, feminism, education reform, women in STEM fields, and women’s health.steminist

Why?

These movements definitely intersect with my sense of identity; I know the importance of education and I am a woman. While I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to receive a high quality education, and now, I have the privilege of attending UD. Because of my background, I think that quality education is very important and that all people in all parts of the globe should have access to it. Girls in developing regions of the world are especially deprived of this necessary education. Also, I am a female and I am an engineer. Engineering is a male-dominated field, and I do not want to be disadvantaged in my career because I am a woman.

Benefits

These movements have already created change in the world. To begin, women in first world countries are increasingly being treated and paid equally as men in their careers. Also, more women are making names for themselves in business, politics, engineering, and science. Next, a benefit related to girls in developing countries includes helping girls get a higher level of education and better their lives instead of having only a primary level of education and being oppressed by their country’s culture. The Girls Count Act, which ensures that girls have official birth certificates, reduces child marriage and gives girls more access to education.

Challenges

On the other hand, there are many challenges that need to be addressed moving forward. To begin, many people misunderstand the definition of feminism and do not think it promotes gender equality. Two examples of this include the countermovement to feminism, meninism, and the labeling of feminists as “feminazis”. Another major challenge is the lack of support from men even though feminism is important for both genders. A challenge for girls in developing countries is that the way of life is so ingrained in society that it is hard for girls to disobey the culture to go to school or to avoid child marriage.unicef

These Movements on Campus

On college campuses, there are multiple student organizations that support these causes: Girl Up Campus, Scientista, Society for Women Engineers, Student Activists for Gender Equality, and UNICEF.girlup