Monthly Archives: January 2012

Only at Wellesley: If you give Madeleine Albright a Sandwich…

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ’59 who, as I mentioned, is on campus for an Institute that bears her name — visited the  on-campus sustainable food co-op El Table yesterday (By the way El Table used to be just a table by the elevator back in the day… that’s how it got its current name: El Table=Elevator Table, but I digress…) Secretary Albright worked at El Table when she was a student in the late 1950’s. Read the full story here in the Boston Globe. The El Table staff also named a sandwich after her, called the Madeleine All-bite. Cute!

Students who work at El T sign the walls — Secretary Albright added her’s! Here is a picture her signature that is now on the wall!

Photo Cred: Karin Robinson

Yeah, this is why I love going to school here. Oh, and not to forget, Albright also gave an amazing talk yesterday on the state of the United Nations AND spoke with political science majors (I am one of them!) over breakfast this morning.  She is awesome.  Look for my post in a bit about my reflections of her talk today.

P.S. Food for thought: What ingredients would you have in a sandwich named after you?  I actually have an “un-official” sandwich with my friends at El T (I keep on trying to get my friends to name it after me, but I am not Madeleine Albright).  My sandwich would be on ciabatta bread with turkey, brie, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, and pesto.  It is amazing, if I do say so myself. :)

Madeleine Albright at Wellesley!

Yesterday was the Anniversary of Madeleine Albright’s swearing in as Secretary of State (Jan. 23, 2007)! It seems fitting then that she would come to her Alma Mater (Wellesley) the next day to encourage a new generation of students to pursue their dreams. The event starts at 4:00 this afternoon at Wellesley’s Alumnae Hall. Madeleine Albright will be joined by James D. Wolfensohn, former president of the World Bank, to answer the prompt: “Is the UN Dream Dead? International Organizations and the Challenges of Change.”

I will be attending the event, and I am sure most of my Wellesley sisters will be too! Look for my twitter feed for live updates and a blog post later about the event.

To learn more, you can see mentions of the event in the Boston Globe and Wellesley Townsman.

P.S. Hope to see you there! And if you are and want to tweet about it, the hashtag is #mkai

Women in Politics are Role Models!

For the past few weeks I have been living at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and have been taking a political science class there over winter break.  That is one of the awesome things about Wellesley; that we can cross-register with a ton of other local colleges and experience other learning environments.  MIT, Babson, Olin and Brandeis are the easiest to cross register with because they are considered our “brother” schools, but some friends have taken classes at Harvard too.  Though I think Wellesley classes are still my favorite, I love being so close to Boston where there are so many colleges and other students I can meet . Some of my best friends go to MIT and Harvard.

But I am getting away from what I wanted to post today!

I wanted to share with everyone this recent, fascinating study that posits that women politicians are especially influential as role models to young women.

Over 8,000 Indian adolescents and parents were surveyed in West Bengal, India, where one-third of prahan positions are reserved for women .  The study discovered that women who became heads of their prahan, or leader of a village council, serve as role models which helps to raise the “career aspirations and educational performance” of young women.    Esther Duflo, an MIT professor who headed the study says that “seeing women in charge persuaded parents and teens that women can run things, and increased their ambitions.”  This had the effect of erasing the gender gap that usually works in favor of men.

Click here for the full report.  This is the news article from MIT about the study.

Graphic: Christine Daniloff

I think this goes along really well the idea of mentoring I mentioned earlier.  If young women have someone they can look up to–who guides her and lets her know about the opportunities available to her–she is more likely to not fear the gender gap.  Though this report looks at India, I think the same concept can be applied to the U.S.  I actually have written about this in class: once more women become involved in politics, young women will start to see this as a norm and not an exception.  Women, today, often think they are not qualified for office because they do not see many women running, and they frequently decide to not run simply because they are afraid it is only a man’s job.  But if young women see women role models in office and gain confidence in their qualifications, it will be a snowball effect of more women deciding to run. I hope that women see this study, take it seriously, and try to be more involved in politics!

P.S. What are your thoughts on women politicians as role models?  When I think to our country’s women politicians, many pop into mind (Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright from Wellesley!!!) who are role models to me.  However, I wouldn’t consider all current women politicians as my role models.  What do women in politics need to convey to young women to be positive role models?

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits

I know you were wondering…here is where the pantsuits (as in the title of this blog) come into play.

For my Wellesley seminar class on “persuasive images” in media, I just did a research project on how a woman’s presentation through campaign ads, photographs, banners, and personal style shapes her campaign and thus, voter’s opinions.  I focused on Secretary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign for this analysis (and I ended up getting an A on the project!!! woohoo).

There are numerous studies on how appearance in general matters in politics, and it is obvious why.  But a woman’s style and appearance has become especially crucial for women when running for political office. And Secretary Clinton is known for her distinct style accessory: the pantsuit.  We have seen her wear pantsuits in almost every style and color.  But it is interesting if you look at this style further.

When running in 2008, Secretary Clinton’s first campaign strategy was to present her as gender-neutral—to focus on her skills and experience, rather than bring direct attention to her gender. A pantsuit for a woman (as compared to a skirt or dress) makes sense to show a gender neutral appearance.  Secretary Clinton’s pantsuits were interesting too because of how many colors and styles she had, and those colors would be carefully selected depending on the message that needed to be portrayed.  For example, she would wear pastels when her campaign wanted to soften her image and make it more feminine. And when there was an upset in the campaign (like not receiving the democratic nomination), she wore colors that were cheery and bright, like a bright orange! Her jewelry and makeup are always simple and understated. They do not draw attention too much to the jewelry or to her femininity.

Naturally, in preparation for the State Department Initiative, this inspired me to get a new business-attire outfit for the inaugural Women in Public Service Project event. I decided that a pant suit was best because we wanted to be a part of the “Sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits” that Secretary Clinton has championed.

But what type of pant suit is appropriate for a young (almost) college graduate.  I decided that I wanted to look for something that was a little different, something that fit my personality.  No simple black suit for me! I decided that I would look for something that represents me being young and feminine… a fresh, young take on the traditional black style.  The picture above shows the outfit pretty well.  I found a pink blazer at Urban Oufitters.  And some classic black trouser pants from White House/ Black Market.  I wore a cream silk camisole from Club Monaco (couldn’t find the pic).  The shoes are probably my favorite though.  I got a pair of “lizard-stamped” black wedges from Ann Taylor.  They are amazing and match the lizard-printed leather on my tote/ briefcase bag. My jewelry I kept simple.  I am wearing my Wellesley necklace and ring. I think my outfit looks pretty similar to Secretary Clinton’s (below) don’t you?

P.S. What are your opinions of women’s professional fashion?  What is your favorite professional outfit? (Please comment because I need ideas for when I start a job in the real world!)

Mentoring: Personal Experience

I mentioned before how mentorship was a huge topic.  I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but this topic is so interesting to me because I have had some great mentors…so I want to mention it again.  Professors at Wellesley, coordinators at jobs, family, and even fellow students have all acted as mentors and have helped shape who I am today.

One particularly influential mentor was a former boss, the Executive Director (Priti Rao), of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (MWPC) where I worked as an intern.  The MWPC’s  mission is to increase the number of women elected to public office and appointed to public policy positions.  Priti took me under her wing and gave me advice about everything from strategies for fundraising to what to expect when I studied abroad the next year (she even told me some great stories from her adventures!).  What I appreciated most was how she trusted me as an intern and gave me responsibility, so I felt like I was contributing to the organization. She helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses; specifically, that I like to work with people, organize events, write press releases, and fundraise.  She introduced me to women who were professionals on the board of the MWPC  and invited me to attend young professionals events.  Through meeting these women at the events, I was able to learn about a variety of jobs and discovered PR, the career I would like to have. Without her guidance, I would still feel lost about my aspirations.

Her mentoring and encouragement gave me the confidence to pursue other goals–which is why I think being a mentor is a goal all women (and men too!) should have.

P.S. Who has been a mentor in your life?

Priti Rao
There I am on the left and Priti Rao is in the middle.


I hope everyone had a great holiday season and is having a good new year so far. I have been enjoying time at home. The winter holidays are just how I remember them — the ground is covered in fine, white, powdery… sand :) and I’ve been enjoying 80-degree weather at home (San Diego).

I’ve had some time over the holidays to do some reflecting, and I’ve been thinking a lot about mentorship — which is one of the themes that came up a lot while I was in D.C. Each of the woman who spoke at the Colloquium talked about how she got to where she is today, and also how they want to help other women get there as well. I especially enjoyed Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, who said she mentors women and also “keeps a list” for the occasion when a man tells her there’s no women qualified for a particular position.

In the U.S., there are some organizations designed to encourage women to become involved in the public service. I worked for the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (MWPC) two summers ago and planned training events, a fundraiser, and also worked on two campaigns. There is also Emily’s ListNational Organization for WomenThe White House Project…and so many more. Readers, I’m curious do any of you have experiences with any of these organizations? Others like these? Or even a story about a mentor in your life? I’d love to hear them below.

P.S. The Women in Public Service Project is setting up an online mentoring program. Visit the Project’s Web site to learn how to get involved.

Summer Institute Applications are Now Available!

I’ve been away from campus on break but will be returning soon and blogging more regularly. I just wanted to put up a quick post because I just learned that the Women in Public Service Summer Institute Application is now available on the project website:

P.S. I’ll be posting another post on “Mentorship” later today, so be sure to come back!