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Sociology student to UN to discuss women in leadership

Alyssa Shaw

Alyssa Shaw, PARSA President and ANU School of Sociology postgraduate student, is heading to the UN Comission for the Status of Women's annual gathering in New York

Thursday 2 March 2017

Masters candidate Alyssa Shaw will take the message that young women should consider leadership roles to a global audience at the United Nations in New York this month.

The Australian National University’s Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA) President leaves this weekend for the UN Commission for the Status of Women’s annual gathering, which will explore women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.

“I’ll be part of the YWCA Australia delegation and share my experiences in PARSA, and working in the federal government’s departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Treasury,” Alyssa says.

“I’ll chat to young women on the sidelines of the events and encourage them to get into leadership roles, because it can be hard to see what women in leadership look like.

“In my experience as PARSA President, there are patriarchal views of how women should act that conflict with traditional notions of leadership meaning women are harshly judged.”

Another aspect of the School of Sociology student’s message will be her experiences of workplace harassment and bullying. She’s also talk about common problems facing postgraduate students.

“A key issue for women at work is overrepresentation in part time and insecure work. These issues are relevant here in Australia and are applicable elsewhere.”

“There’s a lot of casual, insecure work for postgraduates such as tutoring,” Alyssa explains.

Other issues include workforce inequities experienced by people in caring or family roles.

Alyssa graduated from ANU with a Bachelor of Commerce (’11), worked as a public servant, and then transferred to a non-governmental organisation before deciding to return to university for postgraduate study.

“I’m doing a Master of Studies (Advanced), specialising in gender, women’s rights, and feminist theory,” she says.

“I wish more people did interdisciplinary studies, because you get to build your degree, and while the administration can be a burden, for me it’s been very rewarding.

“You’ve got to break down various silos to tackle difficult problems.”

Since becoming PARSA President in August 2016, Alyssa’s had to juggle study and office duties which can vary from 50 to 120 hours a week.

She appreciates the support offered by her supervisor, Associate Professor Helen Keane, Head of the School of Sociology.

When time allows, Alyssa relaxes by gardening, playing netball, and kneading clay with her friends in the Canberra Pottery Society in Watson.

“I’ve wanted to go to the UN Commission for years,” she says.

“There are lots of different nationalities and perspectives, but our goals are the same: realising equality for women.”

Learn more about PARSA here, or follow them on Facebook. The School of Sociology is on Twitter.

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Updated:  25 July, 2017/Responsible Officer:  College Dean/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications