Gender diversity varies within IGL programs, IR department
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 03:03
“If you are doing anything domestic in the Middle East, the position of women in society matters,” freshman attendee Leah Muskin-Pierret said. “Females will notice these things because they are in the country directly experiencing them.”
“It is important to have women as strong representations of education and information when you go to the Middle East,” Hall said.
Some IGL programs, including Building Understanding Through International Learning and Development (BUILD), a sustainable development program, and the Alliance Linking Leaders in Education and the Services (ALLIES), a civil-military relations program, have female-dominated leadership structures.
According to Beckham, the six co-chairs of ALLIES have all been female since he joined two years ago.
“ALLIES is a group where I think gender issues are really important given an institution like the military which is historically very male-dominated,” he said. “Especially when you are thinking about civil-military relations and how you have an increasing number of women in the military and civil bureaucracy, that dynamic is really important.”
One trend Teichman recognized was shift towards more women as winners of Dr. Jean Mayer Award, the IGL’s most significant honor.
“In the earlier years, given the themes we were dealing with — war, sovereignty, terrorism — a disproportionate number of winners were male,” he said. “The barriers are definitely cracking, and I’m very proud that we are part of that.”
Brown emphasized the mounting importance of gender issues within the realm of international relations.
“Gender is simply in so many aspects of international relations the elephant in the room,” she said. “It is so big and important right now. If you look at the State Department under Hilary Clinton, she pushed the gender issue very aggressively.”
Although most support increasing women’s representation within the field, stances differ on whether specific issues can pertain more to women and benefit uniquely from their perspective.
“I think there should be a balance in everything. Women can
bring a different opinion,” Letayf said.
“I’m not of the camp that believes in the feminization of issues or that women have a different perspective,” Teichman said. “But we better make sure there is an openness [to women] and we do.”
According to Brown, the IR department is working with the Women’s Studies Department to jointly sponsor more related events for students. Additionally, the leaders of both departments are looking to add courses that address gender issues within international relations to next fall’s course offerings.
“Looking at gender and the breadth of resources we have around gender, it is a Tufts strength. For me it seems a natural next step,” she said. “Students who want to study the gender dimension of whatever aspect of IR they are interested in will hopefully have courses that fulfill their requirements,” Brown said.
The field of international relations is continuing to expand to include more women and issues of gender, and Tufts hopes to remain ahead of the curve.
“There is a new understanding in international politics about how much the fifty percent, often a silent fifty percent, matter,” said Muskin-Pierret.
“When [The Fletcher School] in the 1970s was really strong in security, all about guns, war, and diplomacy, everything they were studying was a man’s game,” Brown said. “That simply isn’t true anymore.”