By Esha Grover
Esha is a student in the TransAtlantic Master’s Program.
Hello from the TransAtlantic Master’s Program! We recently took a field trip to New York City. Our first day (after flight and subsequent taxi ride that was somehow longer than our flight) was spent visiting offices at the UN. First, John Solecki from the UNHCR gave a talk on his organization and a general overview of defining refugees and the challenges facing humanitarian organizations seeking to protect them. Between sessions we took a brief coffee break that, for a lucky few of us, involved empanadas. That afternoon we visited UN Women, an NYC-based organization that works to promote gender equality in the developing world. The organization is relatively new and well-funded, so they have a refreshing number of goals and motivation. Nanette Braun’s talk there was engaging and an excellent segue into our conference on women in the workplace, scheduled for the next evening.
TAM Students Esha Glover (left) and Claire Asher (right) in front of the UN Women office.
That evening we had a chance to meet with our Professor Christiane Lemke’s other students from Hanover and NYU in a more social setting, as well as talk to a few TAM alums who live in the city. We also had a chance to eat duck. Wednesday began with cookies and research presentations from some of the students. Topics ranged from true deliberation in environmental awareness programs to ethnic relations of Turks in Bulgaria and more. I can say that at least for me personally, it was a great experience to present my research alongside other graduate students in a constructive and non-threatening setting. We all walked together after this presentation to the Lower East Side to visit the Tenement Museum.
That afternoon we visited the Danish ambassador to the UN, who spoke to us briefly about his job and how he acquired it. We then spoke with TAM alum Rebecca Scheel who works in the office as a representative of “Invest in Denmark.” She also explained her journey to her current job after TAM, proving that this program can prepare you for a wide range of careers.
That evening began the Max Weber Chair Conference. The keynote speaker was a professor of law from Harvard University, who spoke to the specific challenges facing women in the competitive environment of law school, which she and the audience found to be relevant to women in leadership positions everywhere.
Presenters at the “Can Women Have it All?” conference.
The next day was devoted to the three panels of the conference all dealing with a question we later deemed ill-worded: “Can Women Have it All?” In general, the conference was both informative and thought-provoking, and provided my peers and me with the opportunity to be star-struck while sharing lunch with German scholar Angelika von Wahl. The final panel of the conference concluded that we should not be asking ourselves if women can “have it all” for multiple reasons. First, “it” and “all” are very different for each woman. Balancing a work and home life is not necessarily every woman’s life goal or her definition of having it all. Also, in an effort towards equality, Joyce Mushaben pointed out that this concept of “having it all” does not exist in the male world, and thus should not exist in the female world.
One critique of the panels that I shared with many of the attendees was that it focused quite heavily on empowering already wealthy, well-educated, and presumably happily married women. Very little attention was given to minority women or the most at-risk group in Europe today—single mothers. Still, I would like to think that advancing women who are already positioned to be leaders is the first step in representing the financially and ethnically diverse group that is half the population of our world.
Of course, after all this academic glory, many of us stayed in the city to enjoy more food. Thank you so much to the Center for European Studies for sending us, Professor Lemke and Sarah Hutchison for organizing the trip, and to NYU for hosting us!