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I am a college graduate with a degree in psychology who has worked the last 3 years since graduation in the very unfulfilling field of retail management. I am interested in possibly going back to school to do research (and maybe affect public policy ) in such areas as girl's self-esteem, gender in the media, etc. Obviously, at this point, I am not qualified to apply for a grant to do anything on my own, but I would like to be directly involved with the people who do such research. My questions - How does one get involved in this field? Is this "Women's studies"? "Media studies"? Who actually does this type of research? Thanks so much. - Melissa

To learn more about the area of "girls self-esteem, gender in the media,..." there are a number of types of organizations that you can contact--and for all of them I do think that psychology is a good place to have started. Some of these organizations grow out of academia; some out of the world of not-for-profit-organizations; some out of the public sector and more and more out of the private sector, which is good and bad.

There are a couple of organizations that I recommend you begin with:

  • The Wellesly College Center for Research on Women--which is a "think tank" of sorts on issues impacting women and girls. Many of their efforts recently have been on girls. They are based in Wellesley, MA.
  • The American Association of University Women has sponsored a number of studies on girls and girls development. They are based in Washington, DC.
  • Faye Wattleton, former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of American--has recently started the Center for Gender Equity here in New York City. I imagine that this center will generate much of this research.
  • The Ms. Foundation for Women--who created "Take Our Daughters to Work Day" are pioneers in the area of girls. They are based in New York City, too.
  • There is also the Harvard Education Program, which brought to us the work of Carol Gilligan and many others.
You can also contact your local Representative or Senator to inquire about what work is being done around women/girls in your area. If you don't trust your Senator/Representative, most of the female Senators/Representatives should know what is happening.

As for media--there is actual media--such as Ms. Magazine, HUES Magazine, Teen Voices, New Moon--all of which are promoting a healthier world for women and girls. There are also media watchdog groups doing this work. There is FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) based in New York City with its own Women's Desk. I hope these suggestions help -- good luck.



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