Social Justice and Your Career

Many of us are engaged in social justice issues on campus and want to continue to engage with these issues in the future. Last week, we hosted “Social Justice and Your Career” to explore what it means to use your career as a platform for social justice work.

We hosted three incredible speakers…

Natalie Bridgeman Fields, Founder and Executive Director of Accountability Counsel

Annie Lee, Equal Justice Works Fellow at the National Center for Youth Law

Kathy Martinez, Associate Director at Stanford Diversity and First-Gen Office

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Our panelists represented a variety of social justice interests – education, poverty, racial justice, representation, environmental justice, etc. – and it was clear that they translated their passion into meaningful work. While discussing their careers, they also shared their insight into how to build a sustainable social justice career.

Social justice work has many rewards

Our panelists defined social justice as respecting people’s dignity and shifting power dynamics. This means challenging the status quo and supporting greater representation for people of all backgrounds. They recommend being true to ourselves and our own passions throughout our career. We should keep social justice issues at the forefront of our minds.

It’s truly awesome to work on something you feel passionate about and to feel like your work is meaningful and important. When you engage closely with the communities you serve, you can see the direct effects of your work. Working on causes that directly impact people’s lives is one of the greatest rewards of social justice careers.

Social justice work can be challenging

Our panelists emphasized that doing effective social justice work requires understanding and engaging with the communities we serve. Working closely with challenging issues can also be frustrating, saddening, or cause guilt when we don’t live up to our goals.

There can be other challenges to social justice careers as well. Society may not appear to value our work as much as it’s worth. Our guests mentioned that the pay in social justice roles is often low. In order to thrive and be as effective as possible, it’s important to balance selflessness with knowing our worth. Sometimes we have to make compromises or transitions throughout our career to balance our needs and goals.

Self care is key!

After discussing the rewards and challenges of social justice work, we started talking about how to take care of ourselves while going through the various stages of our careers. With a lot of challenging and stressful things going on in the world, we have to take care of ourselves in order to be ready to make a broader impact. Self care is often challenging, but it’s incredibly important.

Self care takes a lot of different forms, and you can find what works for you! For some people, self care means exercise, meditation, or spending time with friends. We have to find a balance between work, social justice engagement, and other aspects of life. A community and support system are also crucial! There are a lot of people with similar interests and experiences, so tap into this network.

There are many ways to incorporate social justice into our life!

Social justice issues permeate every part of society. It is important to be intentional with our work and the way it influences those around us.

It’s also important to recognize that a lot of learning will also happen throughout your career. Sometimes we have to do trial by error and learn from our mistakes. We might not find the perfect balance right away. Everything we do can be a step towards reaching a goal, as long as we are learning. There’s no clear path forward— it is important to have a long-term plan and a set of values, while still being flexible.

Join us in bringing social justice into our life paths! Engage others in the conversations. Look around at the tables you’re sitting in. Who’s there? Who’s not? How can we bring underrepresented people to the table?

Posted by Annie and Belce

Women in STEM Symposium Recap

The conversation surrounding women in STEM fields often revolves around the cultural, structural issues that discourage women from pursuing science, tech, engineering or math. But what about the mental and emotional health of women in STEM? This year’s Women in STEM Symposium aimed to address this topic: what are strategies for self-care and resilience when working in a field dominated by men?

On Friday February, 19th, the WCC hosted the 2nd Annual Women in STEM Symposium, an afternoon for women in STEM to authentically discuss barriers faced in their academic or professional careers. The goal of the event was to discuss these obstacles and present tools to help women navigate through the STEM fields with healthy mindsets.

We hosted three phenomenal speakers:
Meag-gan Walters, Postdoctoral Fellow at CAPS
Lea Coligado, ‘16 Computer Science, Founder of the Women of Silicon Valley blog
Mana Nakagawa, ’15 Ph.D, ’12 MA Sociology, Leading Women in Diversity at Facebook

We kicked off the symposium with a self-care workshop led by Meag-gan Walters, a postdoctoral fellow at CAPS who specializes in counseling psychology. During the workshop, we discussed the importance of sleep hygiene and proactively carving out time for self-care.
Then we had a talk with Lea Coligado, a current senior at Stanford and the founder of the Women of Silicon Valley blog ( on increasing diversity in STEM.
We finished with Mana Nakagawa’s talk on her thesis on decreasing number of women at higher level positions (e.g. tenured positions, executive positions, etc.), her role at Facebook and strategies to increase diversity, and combat institutionalized biases – regarding race, disability, and gender.

Some takeaways we had from the Symposium:

Yes, you do have the time for self-care!
At some point or another, we’ve all been stressed out. And it’s easy, in these situations, to prioritize work over anything else. However, focusing only on work can be a slippery slope and cause even more stress in the future. Proactively carving out time (even if just for a few minutes during your hour between classes!) is hugely beneficial in the long run.

Sleep is also so important.

Finding role models can be empowering!
Entering STEM fields as a woman can be daunting, especially when there are few visible role models. Lea Coligado’s blog, Women of Silicon Valley, directly targets this issue. It’s important to find these role models, as a reminder that succeeding as a woman in tech (or other STEM field) is very possible!

Find a topic you’re passionate about.
Mana Nakagawa shared some personal anecdotes about her own academic and professional career. She spent a lot of her time as an undergrad and grad student working on her thesis on women in leadership in universities around the world. Out of school, she was able to find a job that aligned perfectly with her interests. Lesson learned: finding something you’re passionate about will open up exciting opportunities.

Resilience often comes from recognizing your own strengths
At a certain point in the conversation, we all went around and shared our proudest accomplishment. Hearing others share their talents and recognizing our own was hugely empowering.

You are definitely not alone!
The Symposium felt like a safe space for women in STEM to share their own experiences authentically. Participants were able to support each other and share advice on succeeding in their careers. Having these spaces are critical in supporting and empowering women in STEM.

Grad Women of Color Discussion Group: Conquering the Impostor Syndrome


On Thursday, February 4, Anika Green (Assistant Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Director for the Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence (DARE) Fellowship) facilitated a discussion event about the impostor syndrome.

What is the impostor syndrome?

The impostor syndrome is a term which refers to the inability of some people to internalize their achievements. The impostor syndrome is characterized by thoughts and feelings like:

  • What if people find out that I’m a fraud and they kick me out?
  • The only reason I got that job/fellowship/scholarship is because I filled some quota requirement.
  • Even though my advisor said I did good work, she was just being nice.

What each of these have in common is attributing achievement, not to personal work and merit, but to other people’s mistakes or good intentions.

How can we manage impostor feelings?

Reframe the “What if?” questions

  • When we ask ourselves “What if?” it’s almost always bad. Some examples: What if my advisor doesn’t have good feedback? What if I fail this test? What if my students ask me a question I can’t answer? Instead, Anika suggested, look at “What if” in a positive way. What if my advisor gives me great feedback? What if I do really well on this test?

Tell the “Negative Committee” to be quiet!

  • Anika shared an article by Dr. Fanuel Muindi, a former DARE fellow and PhD who graduated from Stanford, about dealing with the negative thoughts that followed him throughout his time at Stanford. Fanuel ends his article with the positive results of gaining confidence and perspective: “I know how and when to shut it up. And when I can’t shut it up, I just prove it wrong.” Learning how to tell your committee to be quiet and paying attention to the reality of what’s going on around you is an invaluable skill that requires daily practice. You might feel like you did horribly at a conference, but if you pay attention to reality, you may remember that there were people at your talk who responded well and wanted to follow up afterward. That is evidence that perhaps you didn’t do poorly after all.

Find a “hype person,” build your support team

  • Finding a person who will encourage and support you and remind you of your accomplishments and skills is a great way to combat the impostor syndrome. If you can’t always be vigilant about keeping negative thoughts at bay, recruit mentors, friends, and colleagues who can lift you up when you don’t feel like you can. Sometimes you need a person to remind you how amazing you are.

Pay attention to the way you talk to and about yourself.

  • Don’t downplay your amazingness! Instead, own your brilliance. There is a huge difference between saying, “I’m just a PhD student,” and, “I’m a PhD student.” The first example downplays the effort it took to get into a PhD program and the work you are doing within the PhD, neither of which are easy.

You are amazing!

While it may feel like it to many of us, there is no way that you stumbled and bumbled and accidentally made it to Stanford. Getting here takes a lot of hard work and time and energy. This is true of many aspects of your life. It takes work to have successful relationships with friends, family, partners, children, coworkers, supervisors. It takes work to do well at your job. It takes work to ask for help when you need it. If any of these are true of you even some of the time, own that. Be proud.

Reach out for help when you need it

Reach out to family, friends, and colleagues when you need help. Mental health professionals are an invaluable resource when struggling with confidence and the impstos syndrome. At Stanford, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) are always available, so call 650-498-2336  if you need help.

– Vanessa Seals, Graduate Program Coordinator

Beyond the Professional Schools: Finding the Graduate Program for You

Often, when students discuss graduate school options, they tend to focus on medicine, law or business schools. While these options can be great for many students, there are numerous other graduate school programs that can lead to very enriching career opportunities. Last week, we hosted three phenomenal speakers for Beyond the Professional Schools: Finding the Graduate Program for you!

Mijiza Maláne Sanchez, MPA, Ed.D – Assistant Dean, Office of Medical Student Affairs at Stanford Medicine

Isela Garcia White, LCSW – Therapist at Counseling and Psychological Services

Kathy Rushmore, MS – Business Operations Program Manager at Facebook


Our speakers shared a lot of great advice for anyone considering further education!

There are lots of possibilities out there. Ask questions to learn more.

Talking to professors, classmates, friends, mentors, and professionals can help you learn more about the options available and broaden your perspectives. Talk to people to learn more about what your future job or school experience could look like. It’s okay, and very rewarding, to ask questions.

Seek out resources to help you make informed decisions.

Before you spend money and time on graduate school, you want to be mindful about your choices. Do your research. Reach out to administrators, financial advisors, and current students to get an idea of what graduate school life looks like at the schools you’re interested in. Consider the program content, cost, loans, location, and structure. This can help you find something that works with your schedule, lifestyle, and financial needs.

Self care is key.

Prioritize your health and wellbeing. Take time to relax, enjoy life, and participate in the other aspects of life that matter to you. You’ll always have more time to work on your thesis or take classes, even if it means altering your plan. Setting goals is good, but it’s also important to adapt to life as it goes. Reach out for help when you need it and get a good therapist. Don’t take academic criticism personally and find ways to support yourself.

Have faith in your process.

There’s no way to know now what your life will look like in the future. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself about every decision. Trust that you will walk your path and create your way.

Define success on your own terms.

Engage in self-reflection and think about what will make you happy. Try to separate that from others’ opinions about your potential path. Additionally, you’ll grow and learn a lot about yourself in graduate school. Learning and growing along the way is incredibly valuable.

Graduate school is different from undergrad.

Grad programs are generally much smaller and more focused. At this point, you’re really specializing and finding your niche. It’s rewarding to be in an environment where everyone is passionate about similar topics. You’re also treated as much more of a professional rather than a student.

A few other takeaways:

Learning is a lifelong process. You will learn many of your skills on the job, and you’ll learn from your job, school, and life experiences all along the way.

Many paths are not linear. Life experiences along the way are valuable.

You can use graduate school as a way to travel. Going to new places can help you develop new perspectives and grow as a person.

-Posted by Annie

Femtastic Friday 2/19

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Happy Friday!
In the past weeks, we’ve seen two incredibly powerful anti-racist performances on mainstream platforms, but while Kendrick Lamar was lauded for his Grammy performance, Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime show was picked apart.  Check out this piece on the misogynoir facing female black revolutionaries.
You aren’t imagining it: a study conducted by the University of Washington found that male undergraduates overestimate their male peers while underestimating women.
On Tuesday, the South Dakota state senate passed a bill banning transgender students from using the bathroom aligning with their gender in schools.  We’re saddened and disappointed by this act of transphobia, especially considering that in school districts offering transgender protections, no incidents of inappropriate restroom behavior have been reported.
Here’s a friendly satirical reminder that men don’t need to tell women how to do feminism.
We applaud Obama’s move to try to end funding of abstinence-only sex education, which fails to prevent STIs and unplanned pregnancy or to teach the fundamentals of consent and pleasure.
Have a great weekend.  Remember to support each other in the end of the quarter!
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[Gif of Parks and Recreation characters Leslie Knope and Ann Perkins laughing and high fiving in a restaurant]

Black Women’s Liberation with Elaine Brown and Ashley Yates

IMG_2329Above image: Ashley Yates (Ferguson activist), Elaine Brown (former chairman of the Black Panther Party and activist), Maya Odei (WCC Herstory Month coordinator), Claire Robinson (WCC intern).

Black Women’s Liberation on Feb. 5th, 2016 with Elaine Brown and Ashley Yates was easily the best event that I’ve attended on campus all year. Many discussions on campus can be a good way to draw in folks who are not already aware of social justice issues. However, as a person who thinks about systems of oppression, diversity, etc. almost daily, I have difficulty finding events at which I truly learn something new, or even at which old information is presented in a novel or interesting way. 

One subject that Elaine addressed was respectability. She preached that we as a black community must embrace “Shaniqua”, the young mother on welfare who has not received much formal schooling. Rather than being classist and looking down on “Shaniqua” (especially, Elaine reminded us, considering that we don’t have any real wealth relative to those in power), we must include her in our fight for liberation. There was much much more but I’ll end with this, thank you Black House for spearheading such an amazing event. Thank you Elaine and Ashley for being completely unapologetic in your fight against racism and other forms of oppression. 



Femtastic Friday 2/12

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Happy Friday!  Here are this week’s Femtastic updates:
Interested in how people perceive common feminist stereotypes?  This poll asks what Americans think about feminism.
We celebrate Beyonce’s powerful performance at the Super Bowl last Sunday.  Check out Jessica William’s brilliant response to its critics.
We love this list of 15 Latinx Changemakers from Latina magazine and BeVisible.
We are in awe of Sophina Dejesus’s viral gymnastics performance.
Couldn’t make our screening of Roxane Gay’s ted talk?  View it here.
Join us next Thursday at noon in the WCC Main Lounge for our Women at Work talk on Beyond the Professional Schools.
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[Gif of Beyonce with long blonde hair and a red dress, smiling and speaking.  Text at the bottom reads in white “I wanted people to feel proud and have love for themselves.”]
Have a caring and compassionate long weekend!

Femtastic Friday 2/5

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Happy Friday!
Misogyny is taught in subtle ways, even in our language.  Here are eight words that reveal the patriarchal leanings of the English language.
Women deserve to have their achievements discussed on their own merits.  We love this twitter user who wrote biographies of male scientists using female tropes.
On today’s episode of “Not the Onion,” the Center for Disease Control recently released a reportadvising women to not drink alcohol if they aren’t on birth control.  #bye.
HuffPost Gay Voices has changed its name to HuffPost Queer Voices.  We’re into this move towards inclusivity.
Enjoy our feminist stickers and looking for more ways to add glitter to your life?  Check out this recipe for homemade sparkle truffles.
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[Gif of Wonder Woman punching in a window with the text “Patriarchy” written over it]
Hope you have a patriarchy-smashing weekend.

Femtastic Friday 1/29

It’s been a beautiful week.  Happy Friday!
Looking for new music?  Check out this list of amazing Latina musicians.
Though the internet has made a wealth of knowledge more accessible, it still is not accessible to all.  This piece on the dangers of dismissing people with the phrase “Google It” really made us think.
You may have heard about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where residents have been subjected to toxic water for two years.  Read this account of how undocumented immigrants have been denied access to free water and this piece on why access to water is a feminist issue.
In the wake of the Zika virus, which is linked to birth defects, Latin American officials have recommended women delay pregnancy for the next two years. This piece explores the complications and contradictions of recommending pregnancy delays while restricting access to abortion and contraception.
Join us next Wednesday at 6pm in the WCC Main Lounge for a talk on Media Consumption with Professor Robert Jensen!
[Gif of Beyonce against a grey background.  Text in white italics at the bottom reads, “I’m not bossy.  I’m the boss.]
Have a great weekend!

The Art of Negotiation Event Recap

Yesterday, we hosted Ahmad Wright, from BEAM, Stanford Career Education. He shared with us valuable techniques in the Art of Negotiation.


Negotiating can feel unnatural at first, but once you learn Ahmad’s key tips, you can do it too!

Express Tips:

  • Do not negotiate until you have an offer.
  • Your salary does not equal your worth.
  • Most companies have a range for each position.
  • Leverage is key in the negotiation process.
  • Negotiation has long-term benefits. Future raises and salaries are often based on past salaries.
  • If a company has no room to negotiate, they should tell you this. The expectation is that negotiation is normal.
  • 2-10% of your salary is the normal range of negotiation.

If you would like to learn more about specific techniques you can use, here is a summary of what Ahmad shared with us.

Before you begin negotiation, it’s important to be thoughtful and prepared for your conversation with your potential employer. This requires a few steps.

  • Reflection – Evaluate all of the factors affecting your future job experience and think about which are most important to you. All of these can be negotiated:
  • Duties – What skills will you build in your new job?
  • Industry – In the future, you might be applying for another job and people might care where you have experience. Company, brand, and name recognition matter in some industries.
  • Job Title – Your job title communicates information to others, and could affect your chances of getting an interview in the future. For example, analyst implies that you work with data and director implies that you manage other employees.
  • Location/commute – Whether or not you mind long commutes, transportation and cost of living have dollar values that you should consider when evaluating salary.
  • Supervisor/work atmosphere
  • Benefits
  • Preparation
  • What is the average salary for this position at this company/in this area? Glassdoor and other websites can be useful to garnering this information.
  • What is the cost of living in this area? Something to keep in mind while negotiating for the salary.
  • Keep three key numbers in mind. Know your dream outcome, what you’d be happy with, and your minimum. Keep these numbers to yourself and use them as reference values throughout the process.

When your potential employer offers you a job, it’s best to say you need to sleep on it, and then you can come back to the table ready to negotiate. This shows that you’re thoughtful and also gives you time to prepare. Oftentimes, employers ask early what your desired salary is. It’s better to respond with “what is the range for this position?” and then say you’re comfortable with the range. Then you can come back and negotiate for the higher end of the range or any other job factors you care about.

In order to keep leverage throughout the negotiation process, be thoughtful with your  responses to employer questions, such as:

  • Why do you want this job? Never say you love it so much you’d do it for free. It’s better to explain why this job is a great fit for you and you for it.
  • Why are you leaving your old job? Don’t say you hate your old job – this makes you seem desperate. Stay positive.
  • Are you interviewing/entertaining other offers? When your employer asks you this, they’re assessing the level of risk if they wait to give you an offer. If you let them know that you are considering others, they might offer to match or top other offers. If you aren’t interviewing elsewhere, you can say that you want to keep it private or are considering other options even if you just submitted a resume. Make sure you’re truthful and consistent.
  • How qualified are you? Uniquely! Emphasize the skills you have in addition to those required on the job description.

Once you get to the negotiation conversation, keep these things in mind.

  • “Let’s work together.” This is not an adversarial relationship. You’re talking with your future employer and want everyone to be happy with the arrangement. You can see it as a problem of balance that you can work together to solve. Show that you’re excited and receptive but you want it to be fair and make sense for you to take the job. Imply that there’s some uncertainty and ask what they can do to make the decision more clear cut for you.
  • What can be negotiated? Salary, signing bonus, benefits (healthcare, vacation, gym, etc), duties, title, etc. Quantify these things for yourself and have a sense of what they’re worth to you.
  • You can build leverage even if you feel like you don’t have any.
  • You’re leaving a familiar work environment and your friends there.  
  • You’re happy in your current job so leaving is a risk.
  • Your assessed worth – you did research and you know your value.
  • Time is on your side. Time is risky to recruiters because you could change your mind or get other offers.

Once your recruiter agrees to what you negotiated, then it’s time to accept the job offer.  

Keep these tips in mind as you approach your next job!

Also, check out our future Women at Work Events coming up in February!