Columbia Joins White House Research Initiative to Advance Equity for Women and Girls of Color

Farah Jasmine Griffin, Alondra Nelson White House Women Equality Columbia University

English and African American Studies Prof. Farah Jasmine Griffin (left) and Dean of Social Sciences Alondra Nelson

NEW YORK, N.Y. (Nov. 13, 2015) — Columbia University has become a founding member of the White House-sponsored Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research, a national effort to engage colleges, universities and other mission-driven organizations in meaningful action to support research and improve public policy regarding women and girls of color. Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies and Dean of Social Sciences for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Alondra Nelson will lead Columbia’s participation together with Farah Jasmine Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American Studies.

Today, the White House Council on Women and Girls, in collaboration with the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University, is hosting a day-long forum on Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color, focused on empowering and increasing opportunity for women and girls of color and their peers. The Council on Women and Girls also released a progress report, “Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color,” as a follow up to the 2014 report, and announced independent commitments to close opportunity gaps faced by women and girls, including women and girls of color.

“We are proud to work with the White House in applying Columbia’s deep expertise and commitment to addressing the most challenging issues facing our society including realizing the promise of equal opportunity and social justice,” said University President Lee C. Bollinger. “The new Collaborative to Advance Equity for Women and Girls of Color through Research will have an enthusiastic group of partners at Columbia and we’re grateful that Dean Alondra Nelson and Professor Farah Jasmine Griffin have taken on a leadership role.”

Dean Nelson, an authority on the sociology of science and medicine, is author of the forthcoming book The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome.

“Columbia will be a great partner in this initiative of the White House Council on Women and Girls,” said Nelson. “Ongoing and new research and programming here about women and girls of color will contribute to a critical public policy dialogue about barriers to racial and gender equality and will be a catalyst for change.”

Professor Griffin, an expert on American and African American literature, music, history and politics, is most recently author of Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II.

“Faculty and students across Columbia are already engaged in a range of efforts to advance equity for women and girls of color,” said Griffin. “As part of an iconic and diverse community in New York City, we are in an ideal position to bring not only our scholarship but also our first-hand experience to collaborating with the Obama administration and our academic colleagues around the nation.”

Among Columbia’s contributions to the collaborative will be a conference this coming spring on issues of concern to African American girls organized by Griffin and Carla Shedd, assistant professor of Sociology and African American Studies. The meeting of scholars, activists, artists, and girls will be sponsored by the Office of the President, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Division of Social Science, and the Institute for Research in African American Studies, with support from the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality.

Next summer, the Division of Social Sciences will continue a “Feminist Seminar for Girls” launched last summer by Dean Nelson in partnership with the YWCA of New York City.