Student group aims to provide support, connection for women in Social Sciences

Sophomores Emily Ng and Eva Kahan, founders of the education, outreach and community building organization Women in Social Sciences, pose for a photo in Tisch Library on Oct. 5. (Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily)

A new student group, Women in the Social Sciences, formed this semester with the intent of connecting and empowering women studying the social sciences at Tufts.

According to group co-founder Eva Kahan, the group will have education, outreach and community committees and will look to provide its members with networking and career opportunities.

“We are hoping to form a cohesive, supportive community for women in the social sciences at Tufts that would … provide mental, emotional [and] communal support by reaching out and connecting different women,” Kahan, a sophomore, said.

Co-founder Emily Ng explained that the community aspect of the group would focus on creating a space for women to talk with each other about classroom experiences and discrimination they have faced as women, while focusing on the academic aspects of those experiences.

“We’re hoping it’s a bit more academically-focused just because it’s super cool that women are into all these concepts and ideas in classes but we might not necessarily hear that on campus … because a lot of times these conversations do tend to be male-dominated,” Ng, a sophomore, said.

Ng said that while many women study the social sciences, they often do not speak up in class.

“There are tons of women in the social science classes, but we just don’t … feel empowered through one another to maybe talk in class more or to ask questions more and things like that,” she said.

Along with supporting women during their time on campus, the group is looking to help students as they enter into their professional lives, according to Kahan.

“I think it could be seen on two timelines,” she said. “It can be seen on a timeline in terms of support here and in terms of pipelining.”

Kahan explained that support at Tufts could look like women in the club encouraging each other to participate more in class and setting examples for each other when they are in classes together.

“Having that community, just being able to look around you and think, ‘there are girls here … who are smart and asking questions and we can all do this together,’ is really helpful,” Kahan said.

Kahan said she hopes the group will help more women attain positions of power in the social sciences down the road.

“In terms of pipelining, I mean the reason there [is a] seven to one male-to-female ratio in the Pentagon is that in times like this girls are kind of pressured out of, or silenced out of, classes about hard security,” Kahan said.

According to Kahan, women studying psychology, sociology, anthropology, peace and justice, political science, history, economics, area studies and various interdisciplinary studies would be included in the group.

“We have been talking a lot about scope because it’s an interesting question, and we don’t want to be exclusive, but I want there to be sort of a guiding direction,” she said. “I do I hope that this becomes … a thing that is inclusive but has a purpose.”

According to Ng, Women in Social Sciences is working on how to be inclusive of a range of gender identities as well, which she says is an important goal of the group.

Kahan agreed, saying she looked forward to making progress on that front.

“That’s very much a thing that I, at least, do not feel like I’m an expert in, so I’ll be excited to learn from people,” she said.

Kahan said that the group has had a general discussion meeting two weeks ago to gauge what people’s interests were, and sent out a survey to evaluate which members would like to be part of which committees. The group is still in the process of being recognized by Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate, she added.

“Due to the TCU funding process and registration process we have no ability to get [TCU] funding for the first year, and so we are seeking out other opportunities to fund programming so we can start to serve the university as soon as possible,” she said.