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Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010

Changing the Image of Women and Girls

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Alverno College has been at the forefront of educating women in Milwaukee for many years. In April 2010 the Roman Catholic institution further strengthened this position with the grand opening of its new Research Center for Women and Girls (RCWG). The Center's new director, Kate Masley, has a solid background in women's issues and gender studies. It has been a whirlwind first year for Masley, but she embraced the challenge and successfully facilitated the grand opening of this unique center for research.

What is the history behind the RCWG?


About 40 years ago the college started a Research Center for Women (RCW), initially with a physical space in the campus library where they had books, magazines and other resources about women. As Alverno grew, they had to take over that room. Even without the dedicated space, there remained a hardworking interest group that continued with the name RCW and served the college well over the years. The new RCWG is much more community based and will offer its resources to the community at large, not just people at the college.

What major goals do you want the RCWG to achieve?


We are a collaborative, multidisciplinary, action-oriented research center. As part of our mission we are committed to making a positive change in the life of women and girls in Milwaukee and beyond. Our vision is to become the premier research center for women and girls in the U.S. One of our major goals is to finish building an online clearinghouse of information related to girls and women that Alverno has been working on in collaboration with the Woman's Club of Wisconsin and the Girls in Charge Coalition.

We have three additional goals this year. First, we want to raise awareness of girl-on-girl violence and cyber-bullying. Second, we are focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and looking at how to develop and maintain interest in girls in these areas all the way through high school into college. Lastly, we want to improve self-esteem and body-image issues for women and girls through programs at the college and in the community.

Are there any planned public events on the horizon for the RCWG?


Some highlights for the fall include hosting the Girls' Violence Prevention Program with Images Of Us Sports in November. We are also working with the Boswell Book Co. to bring Michele Norris of NPR to speak on campus.

What is the most rewarding part of your work at the RCWG?


Working with my student researchers. To see how empowered they become doing their own research and to see how well they know their data, inside and out, constantly amazes me. Working with the faculty and staff at Alverno has been wonderful too. Also, I really love the relationships I've been developing in the community. I've received so much support this past year—it's been just phenomenal. It's really kept me going. Everyone wants to help out and be a part of the Center.

For more information and research results, visit the RCWG website at depts.alverno.edu/rcwg.
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