Through Their Eyes: Being a Gender Minority in the Field

For my final project, I chose to do a photovoice project focusing on being a gender minority in the field or workplace. I thought that this would be a very interesting way to learn about people’s perspectives, especially because I am in a field that is mostly female so being a gender minority during my work is likely something I will not experience. As I began getting responses from participants, I quickly realized that this would not be a “traditional” photovoice. Some of my participants did not go out and take a picture; rather, they found pictures they already had that represented their thoughts (one participant chose to use a picture she found on the internet). One of my participants writes a blog about what it is like for him to be in a gender minority in his field, so he sent me links to the blog posts that he found relevant. While these weren’t necessarily the responses that I was expecting, they were all very interesting answers that I wanted to use. So, instead of asking them to send something different, I decided to use exactly what I was given. These responses are all very authentic and I feel like I learned a lot about each person. I will post each respondents picture and their description along with a short bit about them and what they do. Anything in quotes is exactly what the respondents told me with nothing changed.

Taylor pic

“This photo is of me hiking alone one morning in a foreign port. Normally I wouldn’t hike alone when I am home but when I am working my options for hiking partners is limited. Not only because I only know 80 people in a port, or because I am one of 18 officers. Mostly because I am one of 4 FEMALE junior officers (JO). As a Female JO, I have to be more careful who from the crew I hang out with in port call than my male peers. While that might seem like a small thing, it’s a larger reflection of being a minority, it demonstrates that I have to be more careful with my personal life, my image at work and have to work harder to gain the trust of all of my supervisors. Sometimes it feels like a boys club, but it’s moments like this one, summiting a mountain by myself or pulling of a great ship handling maneuver I remember that I can do anything I want to even if there are other people that aren’t sure I can. What you can’t see in this picture is the 3 other female junior officers I live with onboard, that I went and showed this picture to as soon as I got down from the mountain. They are some of my best friends and it’s because of what we do that we have such a good bond. We pick each other up, serve as a sounding board and have a great time when we are together.” –Taylor Peace is a member of the United States Coast Guard. She graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 2016 and has been traveling on Coast Guard ships ever since.

Maddie Pic.png

“This picture was taken on the very first day I officially reported in to the Academy, actually only a couple of hours in. The Coast Guard Academy has the highest percentage of females among the service Academies, about one third. This is true out in the operational fleet as well. While this picture is only a snippet of my class, it means a lot to all of us. Because the Academy is so small, we are a family of about 1000 brothers and sisters. Gender and race aren’t an issue, it’s about what you are worth. When it’s two in the morning and you have a full 19 hour day ahead of you the next day, you don’t care what any person looks like or what their gender is, all you care about is that everyone makes it through in one piece.”- Maddie Colwell is currently in her second year at the United States Coast Guard Academy. In the picture above, she is the in the second row from the bottom, the person farthest to the right (on the end of the row).

Watchdog pic 2“I never considered myself an oddity as a male spouse until I exited from the service. I soon realized that only 15% of the force was female and a large portion of those male spouses who I had identified with would still active on active duty. My identity as a soldier had made me easily accepted in the family programs. Many of the spouses considered me just another member of the Army and I could fit easy into the military norms. Once I left the service and became the stay-at-home-provider that standing changed.

As we continued to PCS we fell into our old routines of signing into the new duty station as a family. Keeping a sense of humor about things we would laugh when soldiers and new leadership would welcome me into the unit instead of my wife. I would smile and quickly point to my ever-patient bride and say they needed to in-process her, or others would assume I was in a sister unit on post. We soon felt like we were pushing into uncharted territory of military social norms.

Before my humor could wear thin, my lovely wife gifted me a book. The Daddy Shift, How Stay-At-Home Dads, Bread Winning Mom’s and Shared Parenting Are Transforming the American Family. Author Jeremy Smith understood my odd place among the predominately female spouse network. I could still be good natured about my status as a “Yeti”—in that everyone knows male military spouses exist, but hardly anyone has ever seen one—but I could also speak intelligently on how our family was not so odd but a blend of traditional and modern family dynamics. Even now when I take the kids to the commissary or out shopping they still get the comments of “ahhh… you’re spending the day with Daddy, how fun.” I have to remind myself that the cashiers or the extraverted passerby mean no harm, there just aren’t many stay-at-home male spouses for them to run into. Yet to those in our spousal community I am seen as a unique asset. Joining Family Readiness Groups now is still humorous in the beginning—because lets face it, I’m still a Yeti—but now my alternative approach to problem solving and a different perspective is welcomed with open arms.”

“My life as a male military spouse went into uncharted territory when I departed from service to take on the role of a stay at home parent with our daughters. Looking back on things it was a comical transition. We attended several closed door discussions where both my wife and I were counseled (separately of course) on the proper path our growing family should take. In the opinion of my leadership at the time I should stay in and my wife should get out. After the disbelief (of having such a discussion) we decided to stay true to our course.

Our next assignment was a challenging one. As new parents we soon began to see the reaction to our decision to take on less traditional roles. I encountered many inquisitive gazes and I answered tons of questions about “how I enjoyed spending time with my daughter” and countless follow-ups as to when my wife was going to take back over and care for our children. I didn’t try to alter their views, but instead because very good with delivering a simple smile and a passed them a well wish or two… I have had my share of exclusions from play dates because of perceptions. Along with the unsteady looks at the playground when I would be there with my daughter. My status as a male spouse has excluded me from several events, but it has also allowed me to speak openly when my fellow spouses feel compelled to flowery describe a problem. After all you can’t blame a guy if he just comes right out and states the problem; right? Just kidding guys, they can blame you.”- Eric Gardner is a stay-at-home Dad to two daughters. Previously, he was a member of the United States Army, of which his wife is still a member. These quotes come from the blog that he writes about being a military spouse and stay-at-home Dad. In the picture above, the shirts say “Watch D.O.G.S. dads of great students.”

Mikaela Pic.png

“I found these at an art show. This woman who used to print circuit boards started making her own jewelry and decided to use components to make jewelry instead. I thought it was pretty cool, but I noticed that her booth wasn’t getting that much attention because not that many women seemed interested (maybe they didn’t understand) and men (generally) don’t show too much interest in jewelry. Anyways, it made me think about my work in engineering. You’re always riding this weird balance in a male dominated field, in trying to blend in with your coworkers but still embrace the uniqueness of being a woman in this field.”- Mikaela Shannon is currently a digital signal processing engineer at Bose. She graduated from the University of Miami in 2017 with a degree in music engineering.

Dr Mackie Picture.jpg

“This represents medicine to me: women are part of it, but always seem to be in the background, never the leaders, in the forefront, in strategic planning positions.  We are overtly or covertly expected (encouraged?) to be “in the background”– and to take our places there quietly and without complaint.  The exceptions are in the “softer” specialties of peds, family medicine, derm (particularly cosmetic, not serious, derm, so like Botox and fillers), and mental health/counseling (psychiatry).  Never leaders in any of the surgery sub-specialties, research, cardiology, etc.” –Dr. Barbra Mackie Franklin is an allergist in Northern Virginia. She has been practicing allergy for 16 years.

Mr Allen Pic.png

“Shared spaces, even functional items such as classroom calendars, will inevitably be made cute”- James Allen is a 9th and 11th grade English teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Cat Pic

” ‘See, but people are always going to think you’re a *****.’ Sitting on the floor in my band office I took some sage advice from my marching band staff my senior year. ‘You’re in a position of authority, and as wrong as it is, because you’re a woman, people will always think you’re being bossy instead of standing your ground.’ I served as Band Captain of my high school band program for the 2014-2015 school year, I was there to make a difference. Hearing the staff tell me during a leadership meeting that I would never be seen as more than the stereotypes of my gender was disheartening, to say the least. And even though that staff was composed of my biggest supporters, who all backed me up when I had a band that wouldn’t listen to the “bossy” band captain, I still never got over how much it stung to know that my male counterparts would never be seen as more than “authoritative.” But three years later, I am stronger than ever, and I have nothing but my band experiences to thank for it…Being a woman in band is the absolute reverse of being a “rooster in a henhouse,” but it is one of the most valuable experiences I’ve ever had. If you take anything away from this article, may it be these words: Accept and give encouragement, believe in yourself, and never overestimate the power of a strong support system.”- Caterina Papadopulous is a sophomore at the University of Miami. She is studying music education but enjoys being a member of both the marching band and concert band at the school. This excerpt is from a piece she wrote for a newsletter. Even though marching band is not technically her “field” I still found it extremely relevant to my project.

 

As you can hopefully see from the responses above, I tried to use a variety of fields for this project. I thought that by having many different kinds of responses, it would keep the project interesting and I would be able to learn a lot. However, I do have two responses from people in very similar fields. Maddie and Taylor are both women involved with the Coast Guard. Going into this project, I expected their responses to be similar. I was proved wrong, however, when I received their responses. Maddie views being a gender minority as not being a big deal; she mentioned how she and her classmates are a family and that gender doesn’t matter. Taylor, however, mentioned how she has to watch her actions simply because she is a female. This goes to show that you cannot take one person’s opinion as fact; two people in similar jobs can have very different feelings towards being in a gender minority.

I also find it very interesting the different directions that my participants took this project. When I talked to them and asked them if they would participate, I told them that my question was very much up to their own interpretation and they could answer in whatever way felt right to them. I hoped that this would get me very authentic responses because I put so few boundaries on what I was looking for. This worked out exactly how I wanted it to. I had some people that felt that something they had already written best explained their feelings, and I was sent links to blogs and newsletters. I had others that found pictures that had stuck with them and they thought of when I asked them to participate. I believe that there was only one picture that was actually taken for the purpose of participating in my project. This may not be exactly what someone thinks of when they think of a photovoice project, but I loved all of the responses I received.

I realized early into my project that I would get different kinds of responses from my participants. I asked for a brief description of what the picture they sent meant to them and why it represented their feelings about being a gender minority in their field. Some people sent very long stories, while others sent one or two brief sentences. I didn’t want to ask someone for more or less of a response than what they gave because I felt like that would be altering their story, which is something that I did not want to do. I wanted to have as little influence on the responses I received as possible, with the only exception being that I needed responses before a certain date.

The biggest thing that I learned from this project is that everyone has their own thoughts about what it is like to be a gender minority in their field. No one feels the same way about their situation as someone else, even if one would guess that their feelings would be similar. There is no right or wrong way to feel when you are in the gender minority, and feelings can change from time to time too. I went into this project with assumptions about what kind of responses I would get and from whom; most of these assumptions turned out to be wrong.

With me being a female and on the path of becoming a social worker, I will not experience being a gender minority in my field. This is what made me think about the topic for my project. I want to learn about something that I will not experience from people who experience it every day. I wish that I could have found people from more fields to participate because it would have expanded my project even more. However, I am very happy with how this project turned out and I wouldn’t change what I chose to focus on or how I chose to approach it. I hope that others can learn from this project and get some different perspectives. I also hope that anyone reading this who is a gender minority in their field thinks about how their experiences are the same or different from those who participated in my project. I would love to read any comments about anyone’s experiences.

Thank you all so much for viewing my final project. I’ve enjoyed getting to know everyone throughout this semester and am looking forward to reading all of your projects!

—Emily Handy

Advertisements

Structural Oppression

I think that there are always opportunities in daily life to participate in anti-oppressive practices. The more difficult aspect is participating in these anti-oppressive practices at the structural level. For me, I know that oppression is wrong and that no group should face oppression. I want to do everything I can to make people feel like they are not oppressed and I will try to make everyone I speak to feel like an equal. However, it can be overwhelming about trying to change things at the structural level. I would imagine that this is part of the reason that it is so difficult for these changes to get made at the structural level; it is so overwhelming to think about trying to make these big changes that people just give up and only make the changes on a personal level. This is a problem, but it is not one with an easy fix. It can also be disheartening to try doing something good but then be told that you’re not really fixing the problem. As an individual, taking on oppression and the structural level is too overwhelming, however, if individuals could form groups that could then take on these bigger problems it is more likely that changes would happen.

Dealing with oppression can lead to a lot of anger. Oppressed groups may feel that they are being treated unfairly and being looked down upon by other groups, while dominant groups may feel that they are doing nothing wrong and that they cannot change how things are. These feelings are things that a lot of people will have to face because most people are parts of both dominant and oppressed groups. So, one moment someone could be angry because they are a part of a group that is facing oppression, but the next moment they could be upset because they are part of a dominant group that is seen to be oppressing another group. It is important to try to keep an open mind about what the other group is feeling and why they might be feeling that way. No one group is necessarily “wrong” in their thinking, but it is important that both groups are willing to hear the other out and attempt to come to some kind of agreement. Individuals are allowed to disagree and be upset with other groups, but it makes a lot more sense to use that anger constructively and try to solve problems than to use that anger to hurt other groups.

In chapter 10, Mullally discusses “paths of least resistance” and how these paths discourage people from taking action against oppression. This section really stood out to me because it is something that I am guilty of. I have been in places where I hear someone make a racist remark or something similar, and, because no one else reacted, I also did not say anything. Whenever I hear something like this, I always think about speaking up and saying that what is being said is wrong. However, my mind always tries to go two steps ahead and I wonder if that person will then question what I am saying and want me to back up my thoughts with evidence. And what if I don’t have any? What if an entire group of people then thinks that I don’t know what I’m talking about because I couldn’t even stand up for what I believe in? This is such a silly fear because what should matter are my beliefs and not other people’s reactions to those beliefs, but it is something that happens all of the time. I always walk away upset with myself that I didn’t say something, but also relived that I did not get involved in any kind of confrontation. I need to get over this fear of confrontation. As someone who wants to work with oppressed groups of people, I need to be able to stand up for these groups and not care what others think of me, but it is very difficult. After reading the chapter, I also unknowingly participate in remaining silent and othering, but the paths of least resistance was the way of avoiding taking action that most stood out to me. I am hoping that by acknowledging that I do this it will make me think more about it, and the next time I hear something said that makes a group of people seem worse than another group I will be willing to step up and explain that we should not speak that way.

As Mullally says, social workers are often privileged. Many social workers have been a part of oppressed groups, but based on their education level, income, and other factors, they are often more privileged than the clients that they are working with and for. It is necessary for social workers to take action to fight for their clients, however, this can be hard when the social workers are not on the same level as those clients. Social workers do not want to lose the privileges that they have, and making a big deal every time they see some kind of oppression could lose the respect of colleagues. Social workers often have to pick their battles and cannot take on every act of oppression that they see. Social workers also have to be careful to treat everyone equally, so, when they see someone participating in an act that may be oppressive, they have to be careful with how they treat that person. This can be hard because the social worker may not agree with what is going on, but they still have to try to treat that person in a respectful manner. Sometimes the decision may be to go with the path of least resistance to avoid being unfair towards that person.

A (very short) section in this reading that stood out to me was the part about self-care as social workers. I have heard about self-care in every class so far and it seems like such an important part of being in this field. I am glad that chapter 9 discussed self-care because as social workers we will be dealing with so many problems. If we cannot take care of ourselves, how will we be expected to help anyone else? I have not started my field-work yet so my feelings of need for self-care have been limited so far, but I am constantly thinking about what I will do next semester when I have a really hard day in the field. I think that having a plan for self-care before it is needed will be very helpful. I can see myself getting more stressed that I don’t know what to do for self-care and then not being able to relax and be happy. My ideal form of self-care would be to have a dog, but I know myself and grad school is not the time for me to have another living thing to be taking care of. However, I am working on coming up with ideas and I just wanted to acknowledge its importance and say that I am glad that our book discussed it.

Final Project

I have been having a tough time coming up with what I would like to do for my final project because I feel like I still have so much that I have yet to learn. I like the idea of doing a photovoice project because it is so different from anything that I have ever done before. I am thinking about focusing on being in a gender minority in a certain field. I have many people that I know who are often surrounded by those of the opposite gender, and I often wonder how that may impact them and what their thoughts are on being in that form of a minority. Some examples of this include a female friend who is in the Coast Guard and attended the Coast Guard Academy (both of which have very low numbers of females), another friend who is a female DSP engineer at Bose, and many others. I could also see my project taking a turn to be more focused on military members because that has played such a strong part in my life (although I am not sure about this). I am not sure what questions I will ask those who participate in my final project yet, but that is something that I am putting a lot of thought into because I want to learn as much from this project as possible (also any suggestions from anyone would be great because I love to get others opinions). I would also love to include males in female dominated fields in my project, but cannot think of any males I personally know and would feel comfortable talking to about this other than a cousin who is a stay at home dad (when the norm tends to be stay at home moms). Any thoughts on whether this would work? I know being a stay at home parent is not technically an occupation, but it could be interesting to learn his thoughts about being the only dad that goes into the classroom to help out during the school day. I would love any feedback on any of this and am looking forward to reading about everyones ideas for their projects!

Rabbit Proof Fence

Before watching Rabbit Proof Fence, I had never heard of the Stolen Generations. After watching the movie, I put a lot of thought into why I never learned about these events. In my senior year of high school I took a class called Combatting Intolerance. This was one of the most interesting classes I have ever taken and one I would recommend to anyone. I looked around online to find a description of the class and came across this: “This course is like no other in the catalog. The course aims to help students make decisions in a complex world as they transition through high school by discussing fundamental ethical issues like the nature of prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping, as well as personal and governmental responsibilities for dealing with these issues” (https://patch.com/virginia/vienna/the-5-most-unique-classes-at-james-madison-high-school). During the class we discussed a number of issues that had occurred or were occurring around the world (for example: terrorism, apartheid, discrimination, and other interesting issues like the drinking age and tobacco use). After watching the movie, I cannot understand why a class like Combatting Intolerance wouldn’t at least touch on the Stolen Generations. The entire film I was thinking about what conversations we could have had about the topic and how much attention could have been brought to the issue. However, it was never even mentioned and I was completely clueless that these events had ever occurred. If we were supposed to learn about things that have gone wrong in our world and brainstorm ideas about how to deal with these problems why wouldn’t we discuss the Stolen Generations or even watch the film? How are we supposed to stop events like these from repeating themselves when so many don’t know that they ever happened?

I thought the film was very interesting and I enjoyed watching it. All of the things that happened to these children were terrible. I can’t imagine knowing that any time a child could be taken away from their home just because some men had labeled them as “half caste.” There was nothing wrong with these children and no real reason for them to be taken away from the people who loved them and cared about them. When the girls were taken and arrived at their “camp” all I could think about was how it seemed like a different version of the holocaust. These children were not being taken somewhere to be killed, but they were taken somewhere against their will and forced to do work, live in buildings with a lot of other children, and had no freedom. I realize that these two events are completely separate, but it was something that was constantly crossing my mind.

Another part of the film that stood out to me was the very end when they revealed what happened after the movie ended. They said how Molly and her children were all taken back to the camp, and Molly walked all the way home again (but this time with her kids). After this, her daughter was taken away at the age of three and Molly never saw her again. This really made the message clear that the Australians never gave up on getting whom they wanted. Even when Molly ran away two times they did not give up on her or her family. And, when they finally got her daughter, she was never seen by her mother again which seems like a ridiculous final outcome. These people never did anything wrong, and yet they are still unable to keep their children.

I think that some people in Australia deny that this ever happened because of how terrible it was. It is difficult to ever admit that people you have similarities to would ever do something so horrible, so sometimes it is easier to just deny. I do not think that denial is a good way to handle situations like these, but I can understand why people wouldn’t want to admit that it happened. This question makes me think about a friend of mine who visited Germany and went to Auschwitz. She said that everyone she talked to around the area would openly talk about what had occurred there in hopes that nothing like it would ever happen again. They felt that if everyone was educated about what happened and how horrible it was, then it would be less likely to be repeated. I think that this is a better way of handling these horrible times than denying them.

I think that the Stolen Generations probably had a very bad impact on the aboriginal community in Australia. I am sure it made it feel like they were not welcome there and colonists wanted them to change to be more like them. It would not surprise me if those still there in the aboriginal community still do not feel like they really belong or feel unwelcome in their own home. I think that what occurred should absolutely still be discussed today. It is awful that these terrible things happened, but they did, and they are something that we can continue to learn from. If they are never discussed we will never be able to understand what exactly went wrong and what we can do to prevent it from happening again.

Structural oppression can be seen in many ways today. Whether it is people of a different race being treated in different ways, or members of the LGBT community not having the same rights as others, it is all structural oppression at work. These practices started long ago and have never changed, and they create a hierarchy with the dominant groups at the top and minority groups at the bottom. Structural oppression having to do with race is something that can be seen on the University of Michigan campus right now. There have been a couple of instances where there have been racial comments made since school has started this year, and people are speaking out. All through our history different racial groups have been marginalized because some members of the dominant group want to be seen as “better” and “on top.” At least for now, these seem to be practices that are never ending. Structural oppression affects so many aspects of life. For example, when a company is looking for new employees, it is almost always much less likely than an African American will get the position when a Caucasian is applying for the same position. Historically, African Americans could not get the same jobs as their white counterparts, which is something that in some ways has not changed. Structural oppression seems like something that is always bad, however, it is something that cannot be changed or gotten rid of easily.

Blog #1

Theory is important in a course focusing on diversity and social justice because it can help to explain why something is happening. For example, there could be theory helping to explain why some groups are viewed differently than others, and this could help to start a discussion on how to change that. For all of history people who have viewed people who look different as different, and there are theories that help to explain this. Theory is important to learn about so that it can be applied to make things better and to learn from what has gone wrong.

One thing that stands out to me as unsettling is how I learned about the United States being colonized. This is something that I learned about for the first time at a very young age. At that time I was taught the basic “future American’s came over on three boats and met the native people. They learned from each other and had the first ever Thanksgiving.” I understand this being how small children learn about the colonization of America because anything more would be difficult for them to understand. However, when I took US history in 11th grade, we did not learn much more. Hardly any attention was given to how poorly the natives were treated and it was almost ignored that they were having their home taken away. This seems unsettling to me because having their homes taken away was a huge part of these people’s lives and they were treated in a way that we should not be proud of. However, if we do not learn about what actually happened, history is likely to repeat itself. Another thing that is unsettling is how few native people we learned about. I cannot think of a single time where native Hawaiians were brought up in my 16 years of education. We always learned that Hawaii is one of the 50 states and that is it. I was (and still am) very unaware of the struggles that native Hawaiians have gone through because it is not something that is taught in public schools. This is a part of history and something that we should learn from, but that is impossible if it is something that cannot be taught. I think that more attention needs to be given to what happens during colonization and how it affects everyone involved. It seems like a lot of people are unaware of what happens to native people when their land is colonized and it is something that the United States may be ashamed of. History has happened and we cannot change it, however, if we are honest about what happened and what was wrong with that, we can learn from the past and try to change how we approach these scenarios in the future.

Another thing that is unsettling is how much the school system is changing without many people having a say in what happens. For example, in high school I was a member of the band for three years. Band was something that felt like a home to me. It was where I made a lot of my friends and where I learned a lot of very useful life lessons. However, every year, funding for arts in schools is cut. I have heard the thought of music being taken out of school every year in order to provide more funding for other subjects. The group of people that is never asked about this is the students who are enrolled in a music class. For these students, music isn’t just another class, but rather something much more important. In this case, music being defunded can be compared to colonization. Instead of someone’s land and culture being taken away, the schools are taking someone’s classes and lifestyle away. This is not ok and could change how a lot of students feel about school. If the place that they feel safe is no longer available, their entire outlook on the education system could change for the worse. For me, I was always worried that I would have to give up my place in the band because required classes would be added and I would not have time for both. Thankfully this never happened, but I know that now in my high school band members have to take classes online if they want to remain in the band. The band has not been completely erased, but it is becoming harder each year to participate.

A major learning for me this week is how much is taken away from native groups when they are colonized. As I mentioned earlier, this is not a topic that was ever given much attention while I was in school. It has been interesting to read these two articles and realize just how much groups lose when they are colonized. These groups have no say and are always looked down upon. However, it is also interesting that after being colonized, the settler groups start to learn about the native groups and want to be seen as helpful and nice. One reading specifically talked about how settlers will try to connect with natives by saying that they have relatives that were natives just so that they have something in common and so that they will be viewed as “part of the group” even when they aren’t. This is interesting for me because it starts at such a young age. For a few summers I was a teacher at a daycare center, and kids would love to come up and tell me how they were related to Pocahontas. These kids were not saying this because they wanted to fit in with Native Americans, but it is obviously something that they had been taught by their families. I can only imagine that this had been passed down and it is very possible that it could have started because their families had wanted to be seen positively by everyone, including minority groups.

Another major learning for me this week did not come from the readings. Rather, it came from our introductions in class. When I first walked in the classroom and looked around, a lot of people looked different from one another. It was obvious from the beginning that we had a very diverse class. However, I did not realize how diverse until we began sharing about ourselves. Even on the very first day of class, I learned so much from my classmates. I never would have learned about any of them if we had not taken the time to share about ourselves and get to know one another. This shows the importance of paying attention and listening before judging people just because they seem different from you. There is so much that can be learned by listening and being open to others.

I am hoping that this class will lead me to learn more about what other people and other cultures have been through and what we can do to begin to see each other equally.

-Emily Handy

Mo’olelo

Hello everyone! My name is Emily Handy. I am 22 years old and I just graduated from the University of Miami. I grew up in Northern Virginia right outside of Washington D.C. and lived there until I went to college. I picked Miami because it is so warm and I hate the cold, so I’m not looking forward to winters here! I loved living so close to the city my whole life. Although I feel like I didn’t take as much advantage being right next to the capitol as I could have it was great being able to go anytime something I found interesting was going on.

My family includes my mom and my dad as well as my older sister, Christine. She is 25 and lives in California so I don’t get to see her very often. However, I go visit her whenever I can and I absolutely love it out in California.

I hope to learn a lot in this class. I come from an area with very little diversity. I was always in a classroom where everyone was just like me, and although attention was given to the topic, it is not something that I had “hands on” experience with. When I went to college in Miami, I was surrounded by a more diverse group of people than I ever had been. There were people all around me from different cultures and different backgrounds, and it was very interesting to learn about all of our differences. This was the first time that I had been around people so different from me and I did not take advantage of it as much as I should have.

I am excited to learn more about diversity while being in such a diverse classroom. I think that I will learn a lot not only from the professor but also from the experiences from everyone because we are all so different. I think that having grown up without a lot of diversity surrounding me could lead me to giving interesting contributions in class. I may be able to provide a different point of view on some things because I know what it is like to be in a group of people who are all very similar as opposed to being diverse. However, I am also ready to be surrounded by a very diverse group and learn from that. Hopefully I will learn from my classmates and peers and then be able to contribute to the class with what I have learned from my classmates and peers.

I am entering this class with very little understanding of diversity and social justice. Of course, with everything going on politically right now, it is impossible to be completely unaware. We seem to be in a time where a lot of people are afraid of diversity and do not think that social justice is important for everyone. This makes me realize that I am taking this class at a time where it is extremely important for others to learn the same lessons that I will be learning. Diversity, social justice, and social work seem to be connected by people and their needs. Diverse groups need people who have an understanding to help them be connected and accepted, which is where social workers can come in. Social workers realize how important it is to have diversity in an area and are willing to fight to keep that diversity. Social justice relates because every group deserves social justice but often need people to fight for them. Again, social workers are willing to put up this fight for those who need it.

I will work on developing a critical consciousness towards issues of diversity and social justice by being willing to listen and learn from everyone. I am going to try to be very open-minded. I hope to learn from everyone even if I don’t understand or agree with his or her thoughts. I know that we are going to cover some tough topics and I will make sure that I am very present and willing to learn during these lessons as well as all lessons. Because I do not have as much experience with diversity as many others do, I am ready to learn as much as I can and to gain an understanding that I do not currently have.

I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone better and to learn from everyone. I think this is going to be a great class and a very interesting semester!