Guest post from Despina Williams Parker, Staff Assistant for the SUNY New Paltz Dean of Liberal Arts & Sciences
This article was originally posted in the Liberal Arts & Sciences Spring Newsletter.
At the age of 5, Natassia Velez set her sights on a leadership role even more demanding than kindergarten class line leader. She had the will, the desire and the smarts. But when she boldly announced her intentions to become the president of the United States, she heard not encouragement, but laughter.
As she got older and prominent female politicians like Hillary Clinton emerged, Velez noticed a change in others’ response to her political aspirations. “People started realizing that it was more plausible for a female to be president, so they stopped laughing,” she said.
Now a senior international relations major, Velez enrolled in this spring’s “Women and Politics” course to learn more about the “barriers and pathways” for women like herself who hope to enter the political arena. Her experience so far has been both eye-opening and empowering.
Led by Kathleen Dowley, an associate professor of political science and director of the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program, and KT Tobin, associate director of the Benjamin Center and sociology lecturer, the course’s first team-taught iteration offers an expansive look at the cultural, institutional and economic barriers to, as well as the opportunities for, women’s political participation in the U.S and around the globe.