Women at Tech Have Things to Say
September 16, 2013—
“We had a lot of people interested, but most of them wanted to write anonymously. They thought it was too much of a risk.”
Megan Walsh, one of the student editors of Beyond the Glass Ceiling, talks about attempts to establish a base of writers last year as the publication was being launched. If you wonder why we need a feminist publication on campus, for Walsh, the request for anonymity answers it.
“That alone tells me we need to do this.”
Beyond the Glass Ceiling is the successor to the former TechnoBabe Times, a publication largely housed in the humanities department a decade ago. Graduate student Katie Snyder wanted to revive the tradition, with encouragement from faculty, leading to the new publication.
Two issues have been published to date, with much more work planned for this fall. “We want to do at least one a month,” Walsh says. “We’d like them all to be themed, so one could be about technology, another business. There are a lot of opportunities.”
Katie Snyder, a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Technical Communication, helped get the publication up and running. “We started this because we wanted to provide a forum for feminist discussion on campus,” she says.
On a campus where there are still whispered jokes about MRS degrees and the gender imbalance in certain programs (though Tech can rightly boast about progress in addressing this imbalance), Snyder sees the opportunity for Beyond the Glass Ceiling to make a difference.
“Tech continues to evolve toward gender balance, but we have a long way to go,” she says. We all know there are still far fewer women on campus than men—it's definitely an issue that's on the minds of many students. For some students it's not a big deal, or it's a standing joke; for others, it's a serious problem. We thought the newspaper would be a good way to bring the issue out into the open: discuss it, work toward resolving it.”
What can a small publication do? The hope is, like the women’s initiatives of the Admissions Office, to keep pushing towards balance, no matter how long it takes. “Our hope is that the newspaper can facilitate some positive change on campus,” Snyder says. “We'd like to support students who feel alone or left out, offer a venue for feature writing from diverse perspectives, provide a forum for debate. We're hoping to create a community that invites greater diversity, fostering greater creativity and innovation. Everyone benefits, really.”
For Walsh, the opportunities to move beyond just a publication seem tantalizing. “We’re hoping to bring Andrea Gibson up here for a performance,” she says. “It would be nice to expand to movie screenings, workshops and the like. Anything to keep the discussion going. The publication is just part of the organization.”
Snyder sees that there’s a lot of work to be done, but she’s undaunted. “It's idealistic, sure. But worth pursuing.”
The organization maintains an active Facebook presence announcing meetings, events and publications.
Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.