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Updated 10:30 AM October 8, 2004
 

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  CEW is 40
Celebration features author Malveaux Oct. 15


The Center for the Education of Women (CEW) will kick off a yearlong celebration of its 40th anniversary Oct. 15 with a keynote address by Julianne Malveaux, an economist, author, and commentator on race, culture and gender.
Malveaux (Photo courtesy CEW)

Her talk entitled "Making Room for Sadie: Race, Gender and Access in Higher Education and Society" will be at 2 p.m. in the Michigan League Ballroom. Regent Olivia Maynard will give opening remarks.

A CEW birthday party will follow the event. It will feature refreshments and music by jazz saxophonist and CEW scholar Julieta Guzman.

Four decades ago CEW began serving the campus and community as the Center for the Continuing Education of Women. The pioneering center was formed through the joint efforts of a small group of forward- thinking women and the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, says Carol Hollenshead, CEW director. Initial funding was made possible by gifts from U-M alumnae and support from the Office of the President.

"These pioneers embraced the idea that women could contribute to American society in many ways, including through work, and, in the midst of a University built around the needs of young white men, saw the possibility of encouraging returning women students," Hollenshead says. Hollenshead notes that, remarkably, this action was taken when there was not yet a "women's movement," when very few other premier educational institutions had services specifically for women or nontraditional students, and when social change had not yet catapulted large numbers of women into the workforce.

The name changed to CEW in 1989, Hollenshead says, to more accurately reflect its mission of supporting women through service, advocacy and research.

"The history of CEW includes an impressive record of anticipating the changes that women in the United States would experience. Research conducted by CEW its first decade was already looking at women's transitions between school and employment, and our counselors were working with women to balance work and family life years before that became a popular topic of discussion," Hollenshead says.

She says CEW is responsible for advocating policy changes that have yet to be adopted by the majority of higher education institutions.

In addition, the center remains a source of information, support and advocacy by offering assistance and encouragement to women faculty who in some units face a chilly environment, which Hollenshead says is not unique to U-M. CEW also assists student parents with resources and information as they manage their multiple responsibilities and provides returning students with financial and emotional support, she says. The center's research continues to address questions of gender equity as well as the particular life experiences of women.

"Many gains have been made by and for women since 1964: from education, where there are now more female than male undergraduates in the U.S., to the private sector, where family-friendly policies are increasingly included in corporate benefit plans. Across our society, career opportunities once deemed 'for men only' are now available to women."

However, much still remains to be done, she says. For example:

• Women comprise only 7.1 percent of the five highest-compensated officer positions in Michigan public corporations, according to the Women's Leadership Index compiled by CEW and the Women's Leadership Forum;

• Women faculty at U-M comprise only 17 percent of full professors, 34 percent of associate professors and 34 percent of assistant professors, but they account for more than 80 percent of the increase in non-tenure-track lecturers;

• Low-income women in Michigan have limited avenues for gaining the benefits of a post-high school degree, despite CEW efforts to assist them with securing financial support.

"In the future," says Hollenshead, "CEW will continue to address the needs of individuals, to advocate for women and men on campus and through state and national organizations, and to add to their knowledge of the lives of women in education, employment and as leaders."

To learn more about CEW, visit http://www.umich.edu/~cew/about.html.

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