Shattering the ceiling

HOUGHTON – A decade ago, students at Michigan Technological University could write and opine about women’s issues in the publication “TechnoBabe Times.” When Ph.D. candidate Katie Snyder expressed interest in reviving that kind of publication in February, she found the support she needed to start “Beyond the Glass Ceiling.”

“The significance of the name is a lot of the students here are very career minded and there’s still for women, especially in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, kind of a glass ceiling,” Snyder said. “There’s difficulty in reaching the top of the field and finding pay equity. There are still a lot of challenges for women in math, science and engineering, so the idea was to move beyond the glass ceiling by talking about some of these issues and hopefully improving the gender balance and culture on campus.”

With the help of third-year student Megan Walsh, Snyder began putting the newspaper together. To date there have been four issues published, each with a different theme focusing on women’s issues.

“Usually we try to have a theme for each issue. So at the meeting we’ll say ‘this is our theme, do you have any ideas? Here are some ideas that we’re thinking about,’ and just brainstorm about topics people want to write about and that people would be interested in reading about,” Snyder said.

The themes of the first four issues have been a general introduction to the paper and its purpose, eco-feminism, women and politics and health and wellness. The next issue, slated to come out in December, will focus on women in writing.

“The majority of articles we’re writing we’re trying to focus on women in the U.P. and specifically women at Tech,” Walsh said. “So, for this upcoming issue for example, if we can find female writers in the area we’ve been trying to get some input from them. We’re really trying to highlight women in the community.”

Each issue of “Beyond the Glass Ceiling” includes a variety of articles, including opinion pieces, book reviews, interviews with women in the community and investigative pieces.

“The idea at the beginning was we wanted it to have a variety of different articles. We even were saying that if people have photography or artwork we’d love to include things like that,” Walsh said. “We’ve had a couple of graphic design students who have produced things for us. The idea is just to bring together what women are doing, no matter what that is if we can put it on a page.”

As the publication is less than a year old, Walsh and Snyder are still working to get the word out to students who could be interested in contributing, even for only one issue.

“It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment and I think that’s what scares people off sometimes – the idea of being involved in yet another thing. But if they just have an idea that they’d like to share with people, if they’ve got a poem – that’s the kind of thing we’d love to have,” Walsh said. “We just want students thinking about what’s going on on campus.”

Even those with no formal experience are encouraged to contribute.

“One of the biggest hurdles we’re facing right now is that we have a lot of students who want to get involved but may not feel confident enough to write. I want to help spread the word about involvement but not making people feel like they have to have these huge contributions,” Walsh said. “I think that also the humanities department is small and people don’t do a lot of journalistic writing so a lot people feel like they can’t get involved, or they don’t know how or they don’t know a lot about feminism.”

New issues are released monthly during the school year and distributed in campus buildings, including the Memorial Union Building, Van Pelt and Opie Library, Walker Hall and Fisher Hall. PDF copies of each issue and information on meetings and future issues are available on the “Beyond the Glass Ceiling” Facebook page.