There are no limits to where you can apply knowledge of gender issues to support your work, and it can often help you find a direction and a passion. It’s something we all experience – we all have a gender and it influences how we see and interact with the world every moment of our lives – and a deeper understanding of the cultural differences between genders can benefit any role. The skills developed through study of gender and women issues, such as critical thinking and communication, are valuable in every career. Those who want to work directly with gender issues will find a number of opportunities with non-profit, education and the government, but truly any direction can be supported by deeper knowledge and sensitivity to cultural differences. Websites like Action Without Borders and the Feminist Majority are great sources for directly relevant positions.
At CES we have seen young men wondering if there is a role for them in the fight for gender equality, too, and the answer is a resounding yes. Organizations like Men Can Stop Rape are dedicated to working as allies with women to eradicate sexual violence and teach a broader range of accepted expression of masculinity.
An important part of the job search is finding good organizational fit. There are ways to evaluate if an organization is aligned with your values that run deeper than checking out their mission statement online. Before applying to a position, seek out people who have worked there and see what their experience has been. That could mean talking directly to current or past employees (hint: try the ASK network for alumni contacts) or searching for blogs or message boards that might give you the inside scoop. Do a Google search and see how the organization has been portrayed in the media. Look at an organization’s “About Us” page and see who their leadership is and what philanthropic activities they support.
Professional associations often have a wealth of information about their field, and even have job and internship postings. Student memberships are often at reduced cost and joining an organization while a student can get you connected to a professional network while still a student – a critical success strategy. The National Women’s Studies Association and the National Organization for Men against Sexism are great places to start, and the Feminism eServer maintains a large list of professional associations for a variety of career fields.
Books we suggest (available through the CES Career Resource Llibrary):
New Girl on the Job: Advice from the Trenches by Hannah Seligson
Lavender Road to Success: The Career Guide for the Gay Community by Kirk Snyder
Sample job titles at organizations working on gender issues
Legislative Policy Analyst
Associate for Advocacy and Outreach
Mika Yasuo '06 spent time in the Peace Corp working directly with gender issues. Mika's interests and activities during college led directly to her work with the Peace Corps: "There are many ways of beginning your career and it doesn't have to start after you've graduated. You can enter through the back door by starting now by becoming active in your interests."