By Katrina Soriano
PSR and the USC Bedrosian Center teamed up on August 11, 2019 to bring Dr. Emerald Archer to USC to address the challenges facing the women in the workplace. Archer, the director for the Center for the Advancement of Women in Mount Saint Mary’s University, shared that she “has dedicated her career to studying questions related to gender equity and women’s representation in non-traditional domains such as the United States military,” and offered her findings and insights to a diverse group of attendees including active and retired faculty, staff, students, and alumni.
As part of her presentation, Archer shared her doctoral dissertation research, conducted at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, the major West Coast base of the United States Marine Corps (and located between Los Angeles and San Diego) and one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the US. There she created a study to examine the impact of negative expectations on women’s performance and found that if female Marines were told pre-existing gender stereotypes such as “women can’t shoot well” in relation to target practice, they performed at a lower level compared to female soldiers who were not subjected to these negative influences. The unfortunate lesson is that these gender stereotypes permeate contemporary workplaces, especially in STEM fields that are dominated by men.
Continuing about the military, Archer noted that women veterans make up a large portion of the homeless population in Los Angeles County and that by many measures there are more resources dedicated to animal shelters than there are to women’s shelters. She explained that data like this is what her center gathers, and she uses this data to illustrate the challenges facing women and to discuss with local politicians the policies and action plans available to change these types of situations for women.
It is encouraging to see women such as Dr. Archer lend a voice to those who have limited visibility on the spectrum and her determination and dedication to giving women a larger platform and greater exposure is admirable. I absolutely enjoyed the talk and the discussions that followed. I witnessed attendees discuss ways to help further Dr. Archer’s vision and talks of collaborations and partnerships between institutions. I’m excited to see what will happen as a result of the connections made from an excellent opportunity to learn from and work with each other.