The Woman Speaks: Women empowerment in the academe

For International Women’s Month, we take a closer look into the concept of women empowerment in the academe through the lenses of college educators. How do women flourish in the four walls of the classroom, and beyond it? These proficient and accomplished educators in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) share their insights. 

Gender equality in the academe

For Dr. Ma. Pamela Grace Muhi, an Associate Professor in PUP, women empowerment stems from familiarizing ourselves with reality first. “We live in a gendered society,” she says. “Most often than not, women are constantly challenged to assert their worth in any field she belongs to.” 

Dr. Pamela Muhi (Facebook)

In each industry, women are pitted against men, and somehow, both genders are measured on an uneven playing ground. More than often, their sex comes into play when it comes to getting opportunities and receiving recognition. Dr. Muhi wants to eradicate that malicious take of gender inequality in the academe. “Giving equal opportunities to learn among students regardless of their gender is my topmost concern as an educator,” she shares. She ensures that her students are not discriminated against by their gender and that they all know the value of empowering other people to broaden their horizons. 

However, with the present reality, further steps must be done to cement women’s contributions in their profession. “Since women are more vulnerable to gender bias they should be given a wider platform to flourish,” Dr. Muhi adds. “More importantly, teaching students to be more gender-sensitive is a way of empowering women creating a deeper understanding of gender relations to dismantle biases and barriers towards a more inclusive society.”

Setting an example for other women

Meanwhile, Dean Hemmady S. Mora of the PUP College of Communication, women empowerment starts by setting an example for others as a woman. The culture of the academe has been historically patriarchal, but Dean Mora challenges that in her way. “As a manager working for an educational institution, (I am) given the chance to prove that even women can make a difference in the academe,” she states. Her current profession involves managing the college’s four departments, namely: Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations, Broadcast Journalism, and Communication Research. 

Dean Hemmady Mora  (Facebook)

Amid all her responsibilities, she still ensures that her voice is heard, not just out of her authority, but also for her intelligence and wit. “As a Communication Educator/Leader, that is continuously in touch with the media industry, (I am) given a resounding voice even in the industry and allied fields that are known to be male-dominated,” she elaborates. Even though the culture of the academe at present strives to include women into the narrative, Dean Mora ensures that through her position, more women will be given a chance to fulfill their potential. 

Despite her high-profile position, Dean Mora also takes pride in being a mother and a woman in this dynamic society. She values her rights as a woman and continues to uphold the same rights for other women. “As a working-wife and mother, (I) receive support from the government based on my special needs as a woman to be able to effectively serve my country,” Dean Mora shares. For her, it is empowering to know that there are people out there who value women’s efforts in their fields. 

Highlighting the role of women in society

Even though society has progressed considerably when it comes to women’s rights, PUP Department of Journalism Chairperson Renalyn Valdez believes that we can all do better.

For her, highlighting the role of women in society is vital. “I’m more in the terms of being able to identify the role of women in society, and being able to more and more expand that role of women in development, in nation-building, of course considering the difference of women when it comes to other genders,” she expounds. With these thoughts in mind, she also wants to focus on everyone’s individuality. By putting people’s talents and stories into the spotlight, we create more room for people to shine and succeed. “We should create more bumps to widen that circle of knowledge and for it to become the circle of empowerment.”

Society’s awareness of women’s rights also needs work, according to Chairperson Valdez. “I don’t know if we’ve reached that kind of saturation that people are conscious of women’s rights and understand the concept of women empowerment,” she states.

There are still stereotypes revolving around women, and these should be stopped by cultivating women’s studies. Furthermore, as a woman in the media industry, she also upholds the duty of journalists in shaping the women’s narrative. “The information that we put out there, the shaping of this information, the kind of consciousness we are creating, will lead to the kind of discernment that the people would have.”

Chairperson Renalyn Valdez  (Facebook)

Being a woman in the academe is not an easy challenge, but for these educators, true empowerment also comes from within. By believing that they can do things and earn a spot in the male-dominated field, these educators also pave the way for other women to feel empowered and for them to take up space. Women, regardless of their profession, empower themselves and in turn, they inspire others to do the same. 

By Princess Friel Lontoc

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