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Elliott School launches academic, networking program to support female students

File Photo by Grace Hromin | Photographer
A former Project on Extremism employee said he resigned after the program’s director asked him not to write an article critical of Saudi Arabian and Emirati officials.

Officials from the Elliott School of International Affairs launched a program last month to provide scholarships and networking opportunities for female Elliott School students.

Ilana Feldman, the school’s interim dean, said although the International Women of Elliott program “formally” launched during the summer, the program’s official public launch was on Nov. 16, with an event on the need for equal opportunities for women in education, government and the economy around the world. Feldman said the program’s membership revenue will be used entirely for scholarships and fellowships for female Elliott School students, who will receive career advising and mentorship opportunities.

She said more than 30 students indicated an interest in the program after it was first announced in August with an additional 80 students registered for the program’s inaugural event and said officials have seen an “incredibly strong and positive” response from students to the program.

“Student interest is only continuing to grow as I/WE expands its programming and collaborates with student groups for various events and networking,” Feldman said in an email.

She said the group was inspired by the 2000 United Nations Security Council Resolution on Women, Peace and Security, which calls for the increased participation of women in all U.N. peace and security efforts.

“In accord with this resolution, the Elliott School launched I/WE – the GW International Women of Elliott,” Feldman said. “The leadership group is designed to raise the global visibility and connectivity of women leaders in the Elliott community, bringing women from all stages in their careers together for dialogue on the unique opportunities and challenges they face.”

She said the program provided an opportunity for Elliott School alumnae and current students to meet and connect with each other to utilize the “rich experience and expertise” the alumnae have. The program includes 21 members of an “executive circle,” representing various industries and sectors, she said.

“These leading women will help shape the group’s activities and programming, providing a wide range of ideas and experiences to share with Elliott School students and alumni,” she said.

Feldman said the program “touches on” all four goals from the Elliott School’s diversity action plan, which includes building a supportive community, growing the number of minority students, increasing the number of resources devoted to diversity efforts and developing a communications plan.

She said women are historically underrepresented in the field of international relations, and the network of alumnae that the program seeks to develop will encourage collaboration on developing the skills necessary to diversify the field.

“Through these efforts, I/WE will be another avenue to draw underrepresented faculty and staff to the school, fostering tighter connections and building a talent pipeline by creating awareness of the successes of women in the field of international affairs and at the Elliott School,” Feldman said.

She said diversity is a “cornerstone” of the program, and officials wanted to ensure the group’s leadership represents various diverse backgrounds and a range of career paths. More than one-third of the program’s executive circle members are from a “diverse background,” and many of them have experience in the public sector, the private sector and the nonprofit world, she said.

“In addition to the two co-chairs, Julie Monaco and Susan Stautberg, the school recently confirmed the participation of Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley as vice chair, ensuring that no level of leadership is without representation of race and professional background,” Feldman said.

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