A List of Books, Videos, and More Inspired by the Women in Public Service Project Summer Institute

Posted June 21st, 2012 at 10:47 am.

Bryn Mawr Now guest blogger Sarah Theobald ’12 attended the inaugural Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) Summer Institute. In the below post, she writes about books, videos, and more, inspired by her experience.

As a recent college graduate, I have been spending a lot of time searching for a job. However, not all waking hours can be spent writing cover letters, so I’ve been looking for other ways to occupy my days. Reading for myself rather than for class is something I’ve missed, and so I’ve been looking for suggestions. At the Women in Public Service Project’s Summer Institute (held at Wellesley College for two weeks in June), I was pointed toward a plethora of books, articles, videos, and movies by a variety of speakers and delegates. Below are five of those pieces of media, and the reasons they were recommended.

Michele Sison, Assistant Chief of Mission for Law Enforcement and Rule of Law Assistance in Baghdad, Iraq, had the honor of distilling the many achievements of Madeleine Albright into a brief introduction at the opening session. Focusing on the tools she brought, as a woman, Sison recounted the story of the jeweled serpent pin Albright wore to meetings with Iraqi diplomats in response to a poem calling her ‘an unmatched clamor maker and serpent.’  The story of her jewelry, and diplomatic years, is recounted in the book Read My Pins, and an exhibit of the broaches is on tour, coming to the Mint Museum in Charlotte, N.C., June 30 to Sept. 23.

In her dinner speech on Tuesday, Lani Guinier, a Harvard Law School professor, referenced the Implicit Association Test, an intriguing look at the biases you might not know you have. The website offers a variety of associations to think about, including gender and science, sexuality, religion, and disability.

Delegates had the opportunity to work with Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, several times over the course of a few days, but her keynote speech on Tuesday was of a deeply personal nature. She related the story of her arrest and 105-day imprisonment in Iran, and the subsequent effects on her life and work. Her book is a powerful account, titled My Prison, My Home: One Woman’s Story of Captivity in Iran.

In a discussion on women’s roles in democratic transformations, Michele Sison referenced a study by the World Bank about corruption in government, which suggests that women are “particularly effective in promoting honest government.”

One question asked on Monday of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the influence she wields as the third woman to hold her position got lots of attention because of the reference it contained to another presidential bid by the Secretary. What audience members may have missed was the call Clinton made for increasing women at all levels of public office. She went on to speak about the civil war in Liberia and a documentary about the women who took a stand titled Pray the Devil Back to Hell.

Madeleine Albright’s Read My Pins is actually sitting on my coffee table (a graduation gift from my mother), so when I get home, that’s where I’ll be starting on this list.

Delegates to the WPSP 2012 Summer Institute

Delegates to the WPSP 2012 Summer Institute with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

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