For IWD 2022, we celebrate the wide range of research & initiatives for greater gender equality where Scholars are taking a lead
Two Gates Cambridge Scholars will be speaking on gender equality issues at this year’s Cambridge Festival in April.
Professor Jennifer Piscopo, Director of the Center for Research and Scholarship at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California, will be speaking on a panel on Women and power after Covid with Mary Ann Sieghart, author of The Authority Gap, Resham Kotecha, Head of Engagement at women2win and a Trustee of the Fawcett Society, and Bukola Adisa, Founder/CEO of Career Masterclass, which helps women and BAME professionals progress in the workplace. The event, on 6th April from 6-7.30pm, will be chaired by Heidi Allen, the former MP for South Cambridgeshire.
Jennifer’s research on gender and women’s political representation and participation has appeared in over 20 peer-reviewed journals and numerous edited volumes. She consults regularly for international organisations and national governments on how to boost the numbers of women in elected office. Recently for UN Women, she co-authored two reports on women leaders and Covid-19 response and recovery. Her writing on women and political empowerment has appeared in outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Review, Ms. Magazine and The Smithsonian.
Jennifer [pictured above] did her MPhil in Latin American Studies at Cambridge in 2002.
The Festival, which runs from 31st March to 10th April, is the University of Cambridge’s leading public engagement event and tackles and offers solutions for some of our most pressing issues, from the multiple crises in politics, health and climate change to global economics and human rights.
Current scholar Ronja Griep , who is doing a PhD in Philosophy, will also feature in a film on menstrual shaming as part of the Festival’s Imagineers event. She will explain why she got interested in the topic and why she hopes a philosophical analysis can help end the stigma around menstruation. She will argue that menstrual shaming is a form of gendered injustice and say that we should look carefully at the rise of menstrual tracking apps and whether they can help to overcome menstrual stigma.
The event on 10th April from 2-3pm consists of a series of short films with researchers at Cambridge who are imagining the future. It also includes Gates Cambridge scholars Stephen Lezak  who is doing a PhD in Polar Studies, Kamiar Mohaddes , Associate Professor in Economics & Policy at Cambridge’s Judge Business School, and Valentina Ndolo  who is doing a PhD in Veterinary Science. They will speak about climate change, green economics and mapping anthrax hot spots respectively.
Ronja is keen to bring academic research to a wider public and won a Cambridge Centre for International Research grant last year to produce a six-episode podcast series which showcased research on body politics to a wider public and current school pupils considering university.
Gates Cambridge’s Teach-a-thon will also be taking place for the second time as part of the Festival. The Teach-a-thon is a week-long programme of short, interactive sessions aimed at introducing secondary school students to a variety of topics across the arts and humanities, social sciences and STEM fields. It takes place from 4th-9th April and this year’s talks cover everything from adolescent mental health and the history of water to antibiotic resistance. Full line-up here.
Jennifer and Ronja are two of a number of Gates Cambridge Scholars whose research centres on gender equality. Others include Reetika Subramanian  whose PhD in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies is focused on the impact of climate crisis on Dalit and Adivasi girls. She has just co-created a comic book on an inspiring Indian woman farmer who developed a one-acre cropping model to combat drought, debt and distress in her region.
Many alumni are also involved in gender equality initiatives, including Johanna Riha  who did her PhD in Public Health and Primary Care and is a research fellow at the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) in Malaysia. Her job involves evaluating, consolidating and synthesising evidence of what works when it comes to addressing gender and intersectional inequalities in health programmes globally, with a special focus on the global South.
Many scholars are also involved in gender equality work outside their studies. They range from Sandile Mtetwa , who is doing a PhD in Chemistry, co-leads Africans in STEM and is the founder of Simuka-Arise Initiative, a Zimbabwean NGO whose mission is the empowerment and emancipation of young women in the academics, economic and social aspects to Kayla Barron , who did an MPhil in Engineering and has been doing research on the international space station. As a member of NASA’s Artemis Team, she could become the first woman on the Moon. Scholars are also involved in tech innovation for women. Rebecca Love is co-founder of a new app which helps women to manage the menopause.
The incoming Gates Cambridge Scholars also include gender equality advocates such as Erin Hayes who will do a PhD in Astronomy. Erin is passionate about encouraging more young women to pursue a STEM education and is on the board of Women in Physics at the University of Pennsylvania and has mentored several women. During the pandemic Women in Physics organised a virtual speaker series and newsletter to “show that girls are doing cool research”.
*Last year as part of Gates Cambridge’s 20th anniversary celebration scholars Shadrack Frimpong , Tara Cookson  and Sharmila Parmanand  featured in Closing gender gaps for good, a filmed discussion with Anita Zaidi, president of the Gates Foundation’s Gender Equality Division, about different aspects of gender equality with Cambridge’s Vice Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope.