INSEAD, The Business School for the World, “brings together people, cultures, and ideas to develop responsible leaders who transform business and society” (INSEAD Mission Statement). In March, INSEAD hosted the Women at Work Research Conference in Singapore. This conference offered a space for researchers across the world to come together to share their findings on gender. Specifically, on the experience of women in the workforce and possible solutions to cultivate gender balance.

Among the presenters was Dr. Kerri L. Johnson, a UCLA professor in the Departments of Communication and Psychology. Additionally, Dr. Johnson serves as the Chair for the Department of Communication and as the Director of UCLA’s Social Vision Lab. Her research uses innovative methods of communication science that allows her to uncover unique nonverbal ways of communication and understanding between individuals and groups.

Dr. Johnson’s conference presentation discussed her research around visual representation and gender fit. Many of us have unconscious gender biases that can affect the way we may respond towards others. She found in her research that the response to men and women who appeared to be more masculine were assumed to have more work and STEM success compared to those who displayed more femininity. To combat these biases, Dr. Johnson suggested that organizations should diversify their workplace with influential role models that represent all genders, occupational positions (including leadership roles), and physical appearances. By changing the way we are normalized to visualize associations, we can break the unconscious biases that are connected to gender, fit, and capability.

If you want to learn more about the important research about women at work, click HERE.

Credit: Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

UCLA lecturer and co-director of the UCLA Voting Rights Center, Chad Dunn, secures a settlement with the State of Texas requiring it rescind a voter purge of newly naturalized citizens. The settlement agreement can be found HERE, and it requires Texas to withdraw their earlier advisory claiming there were 95,000 illegally registered non-citizen voters in Texas. The 95,000 figure, which is wrong and has now, as part of the settlement, been withdrawn, was retweeted by President Trump. Texas must now institute a much smaller and more targeted program to investigate non-citizen registrants.

In the Fall 2018, UCLA launched a Voting Rights Center with Mr. Dunn and Political Science and Chicana/o Studies Professor Matt Barreto.  Undergraduate, graduate and law students now have the opportunity to learn and train under some of the pre-eminent voting rights experts and civil rights lawyers in the country.

More about the Texas case can be learned at the following links:

Texas agrees to rescind voter citizenship investigation – News – Austin American-Statesman – Austin, TX

Texas will end its botched voter citizenship review and rescind its list of flagged voters | The Texas Tribune

Texas rescinding list of possible noncitizen voters, ending botched review | The Texas Tribune

For previous coverage of this case in LA Social Science, click HERE.

Credit: https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/how-to-respectfully-use-gender-neutral-pronouns-in-the-office

UCLA Professors Abigail C. Saguy and Juliet A. Williams from Sociology and Gender Studies, respectively, are co-authoring a book that focuses on the notion of gender neutrality specifically, its use in three areas: the law, news media, and political activism. They share some of their thoughts surrounding this topic for their book in an article they wrote for Scientific American. The article is titled, “Why We Should All Use They/Them Pronouns.” Drs. Saguy and Williams discuss the changes that are happening in degendering today. More and more individuals and companies are taking action to move away from binary gender categories. For example, United Airlines has made available the salutation Mx., an option on their drop-down menu for individuals who choose to be gender-neutral. In addition, it is more common to state one’s preferred pronouns in various public professional spaces as well as via email signature. Drs. Saguy and Williams further examine this current practice of announcing one’s preferred pronouns. Do gendered identifiers cause more bias and discrimination? Is it better for everyone to be gender neutral and use the pronouns they/them? To learn more about the conversation happening around these questions, check out the full article HERE.

Monica L. Smith is a UCLA professor in the Department of Anthropology. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, Smith is the Navin and Pratima Doshi Chair in Indian Studies and the Director of South Asian Archaeology Laboratory in the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. Her principal research interests have three main focuses: the human interaction with material culture, urbanism as a long-term human phenomenon, and the development of social complexity. Most recently, Smith has spent time on a research project in eastern India, but her scope of work covers various parts of the world including Madagascar, Turkey, Bangladesh, Italy, Tunisia, Egypt, and the United States to name a few. Smith has combined her years of rich research and experience to share the history of cities in her newly published book that was released this month titled, Cities: The First 6,000 Years. In a recent correspondence with Smith she describes in her own words a brief comment about her book. She explains:

“This book explores what makes cities a compelling part of human life, and how over the past six thousand years they have become the dominant form of human settlement. The growth of cities wasn’t an easy process and those who live in cities find them challenging and exciting in equal measure. There is crowding, pollution, high prices, and traffic, but at the same time there are amazing job opportunities, educational and medical facilities, and the possibilities of entertainment ranging from major sports teams to museums, art galleries, and theaters. Cities are also places of much greater diversity, whether that’s ethnic diversity, migrant neighborhoods, or LGBTQ communities. Cities are places of great economic growth and they’re linked together into a global network of connected places.”

Dr. Smith offered additional insights and words of wisdom in a short series of questions about her book.

What inspired you to write your book, Cities: The First 6,000 Years?

I really enjoy teaching my classes “Cities Past and Present” and “Religion and Urbanism” within the Anthropology Department here at UCLA. And I am also an archaeologist who works on ancient urban centers in the Indian subcontinent. Those experiences, as well as my interest in contemporary cities (including our great city of LA!) provided the inspiration for the book. There are a lot of things about cities that we find challenging, but cities are growing larger and larger. My interest was in exploring the long continuity of city life from the very beginnings of urbanism starting six thousand years ago right through to the present and future.

How long did the process take to complete your book?

The Cities book was a sequel to a previous book that I wrote, A Prehistory of Ordinary People, which was published in 2010. Like most academic projects, there’s a kernel of an idea that starts long before we sit down to write a new book. But this one took a couple of years, which in terms of increments is not that much work – about a page a day, really, although some of those pages were rewritten many times to try and get it just right.

What were some of the challenges of writing and publishing?

I was very fortunate in having good prior experiences in public engagement such as through the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology’s annual Backdirt publication. And my colleague Jared Diamond (UCLA Geography) was very helpful in providing encouragement and suggestions. The publication staff and editors at Viking Press were amazing in their dedication to the book and in support of me as an author.

What was most enjoyable about writing this book?

As I wrote in the book’s acknowledgements, this book was really a pleasure to work on and something that I truly enjoyed doing. I’ve always been interested in examining archaeology beyond the perspective of palaces, kings, and queens, so it was an opportunity to think about how we can take evidence in the form of potsherds and ancient buildings to understand how ancient people felt about their cities and how those feelings are still part of our own urban lives.

What do you hope readers take from your book?

I enjoyed the idea of walking people through their own cities, so that they can be archaeologists too. There are the physical remains of our ancestors everywhere around us in every city; in Los Angeles, we have places like Olvera Street and Sawtelle Japantown and Bruce’s Beach. Once people start to look around at the palimpsests of the past in their own city, they can apply those skills to the places that they visit in their travels or the cities to which they relocate for work and family. Cities are remarkably similar in time and space, whether they are archaeological sites or living cities. And some places, like Rome and Mexico City, are ancient and modern all at the same time.

Any advice for others (students/professors) who want to write their own book?

Writing a book isn’t much different from writing a paper (a very long paper!).

How were you able to balance so many responsibilities in your personal life with family and as a professor, chair, director, as well as author a book?

As faculty, we are constantly writing in a variety of different formats, including writing research articles, grant proposals, conference papers, and letters of recommendation in support of students. So, writing a book gets folded into those other activities, and writing is a little bit like breathing: something that we do all the time. But I’ll admit that one of the things that gets cut in the balance of activities is keeping up with things like movies and TV, so I rely on my friends to keep me up to date on that!

How do you feel now that your book is out? How has it been received?

The publisher has been great about spreading the word, and the reviews in advance of publication have been beautiful. One thing that I really appreciated was the reviewers who found the book “humorous” which is not something that faculty often hear – it’s a great compliment. I hope that people enjoy reading it, even if they have time for just a chapter or two.

Definitively, Smith’s book has resonated with many people and has been recognized by other authors, archaeologists, colleagues, and publishing companies. Below are just a couple of praises Smith has received regarding her book. Zahi Hawass, author of Hidden Treasures of Ancient Egypt stated, “Cities captures the reality and stress of how we make cities and how, sometimes, cities make us. This is a must-read book for any city dweller with a voracious appetite for understanding the wonders of cities and why we’re so attracted to them.” Similarly, Publishers Weekly commented on Smith’s book saying it was, “[An] enjoyable, humorous combination of archeological findings, historical documents, and present-day experiences.” These are convincing reviews, so get the book and read it for yourself.

 

To read additional reviews and media coverage on Cities: The First 6,000 Years, check out these sites: Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Centre for Cities, WAMC Northeast Public Radio, and The American Scholar.

UCLA’s Division of Social Sciences is full of amazing faculty, staff, and students who are contributing to academic scholarship in major ways. Dr. Marcus Hunter is certainly one of these people. Dr. Hunter is a dedicated professor of sociology, the chair of the African American studies department, and a respected author.

Most recently, Dr. Hunter was recognized by the UCLA Newsroom for his book he co-authored with Dr. Zandria F. Robinson titled, Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life. This book is filled with the rich history of the Black American experience dating back to the 1900s and focuses on how Black Americans created their own “Chocolate Cities” where black culture is maintained, created, and defended. It touches on diverse topics including race, racism, place, space, knowledge, and liberation as well as the social, cultural, economic, and political influence. Looking through the eyes of Black Americans and highlighting the way they define their American story, it breaks down preconceived notions of American history told by white America.

To learn more, read the interview with Marcus Hunter about his renowned book HERE.

Chocolate Cities map

 

By Institute for Research on Labor and Employment

This past winter quarter, the UCLA Labor Studies Program offered the class Spirituality, Mindfulness, Self-care, and Social Justice. Originally offered as a small seminar in 2015, the class has grown to 120 students with a follow-up seminar offered in the spring. We sat down with Professor Victor Narro to learn more about the course and the impact it has had on the student community.

What is the Spirituality, Mindfulness, Self-Care, and Social Justice class?

I created this class in 2014 when I became more aware that UCLA students involved with social justice organizations suffered from similar levels of stress and anxiety as my colleagues in the work for labor and immigrant rights. The class is offered during winter quarter and introduces students to the teachings and practices of spiritual leaders like Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thich Nhat Hanh. Throughout the course, students learn how to apply the lessons on self-compassion and compassion for others.

How did you get interested in self-care, and what made you decide to teach a class on it?

A few years ago, I started suffering from burnout in my social justice work. I thought it was just because I was getting older, but then I started noticing it’s a major issue throughout the social justice movement—people just overwhelmed, especially under the Trump administration. I see the same symptoms with student activists, and it’s even tougher on them in many ways; they have to balance their academic workloads with their activist work and their personal lives, and many are also working.

What is self-care?

Self-care, is learning to be activists for ourselves, to care about ourselves so that we can more effectively care for others, and to find a balance between the two. Being activists for ourselves means taking care of our physical health and emotional well-being while also taking care of others.

What are the goals of the course?

Through reflections on the readings and activities, students can learn to use self-care practices in their daily lives to reduce their stress and improve their health. I emphasize that there is no best practice for this. Religion can play a role, and students’ religious faiths can be integrated into their practice. Others might choose a spirituality practice disconnected from organized religion or just practical applications of mindful breathing, meditation, or yoga. Everybody is going to find something that works for them.

My goal is also to connect students with the campus resources their fees pay for. For instance, most students don’t know that there is a mindfulness awareness program that offers free classes and workshops to students. There’s also Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), which offers free psychological counseling to students. Part of self-care is reaching out for help when you need it.

What are some of the course readings and activities?

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen Buddhist Vietnamese monk who spoke out against the Vietnam War and encouraged Martin Luther King Jr. to do the same. Thich Nhat Hanh created his own concept of a community called a sanga, where the community members come together to meditate but also to practice peace activism. His teachings are a great way for students to see how spirituality can connect with social justice work. We also talk about the philosophy of nonviolence, including the teachings of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Archbishop Oscar Romero. And we examine how to deal with anger in a healthy way with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an anti-apartheid and human rights activist.

We also do various kinds of meditation at the beginning of each class so students are introduced to basic examples of these practices that they can then explore further if they’re interested.

How would you like this course to impact students now and after they graduate?

Many of the students in the class are activists and plan to make a career of social justice work. I hope this class helps them establish a self-care practice now that will prevent burnout and help them be healthier and more effective change leaders.

 

Victor Narro is a nationally known expert on the workplace rights of immigrant workers. He is a project director for the UCLA Labor Center, a core faculty member for UCLA Labor Studies, and a lecturer at the UCLA School of Law. The Spirituality, Mindfulness, Self-Care, and Social Justice course will continue to be offered, more information to be released soon.

Courtesy: https://laane.org/blog/campaigns/grocery-retail/

On Saturday, March 2nd, the front page of the Business section of the Los Angeles Times ran a story titled, “Erratic hours are the norm for workers in retailing. Can Los Angeles buck the trend?” The article described the unfair ways large retail businesses take advantage of their employees, exploiting them for their labor. Inconsistent work schedules, last minute time changes, decreased hours, low-wages, no compensation, and no opportunity to speak up are just a few examples of the mistreatment and frustrations retail employees endure.

In fact, the article highlighted the UCLA Labor Center for their research on erratic scheduling practices. Some of their findings show that 84% of retail workers in Los Angeles lack a stable schedule and 80% of them are left in the dark, notified of their shifts only a couple days to a week in advance. These erratic changes can cause employees to feel increased levels of stress. A lack of work hours means less money to pay bills, and inconsistent hours makes it hard to commit to other interests/responsibilities outside of the work space.

The Los Angeles City Council has presented a “Fair Workweek” measure that advocates for thousands of retail employees. Some of these measures includes a more stable working schedule that requires at least two weeks notice, more employee autonomy, access to increased working hours, and protection from “clopening” (closing late and opening early the next day). It is the hope that once changes are made within the retail business, similar measures can also apply to other industries such as restaurants, and warehouses.

For further information, read the Los Angeles Times article HERE.

To download the UCLA Labor Center’s report Hour Crisis: Unstable Schedules in the Los Angeles Retail Sector, click HERE.

By Betty Hung, Staff Director, and Kent Wong, Director, UCLA Labor Center

Thirty-four thousand Los Angeles teachers launched a six-day strike from January 14 to 22, 2019, impacting five hundred thousand students and their families. On February 22, the UCLA Labor Center hosted a public educational forum with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Alex Caputo-Pearl and Secretary/Chief Negotiator Arlene Inouye to examine key lessons from the strike and the implications for the future of the labor movement and public education. Some of the critical takeaways include the importance of collective teacher organizing and action to build power; building long-term authentic partnerships with parents, students, and community organizations; and increasing the capacity of the union at every stage to utilize a strike as a powerful nonviolent tool for change.

UTLA approached negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) from a framework focused on “bargaining for the common good,” which resulted in contract provisions that expand green space at schools, limit random searches of students that have a racially disparate impact, and support immigrant students and families. In addition, the teachers won a 6 percent wage increase, class size reduction, and increased staffing with more on-site nurses, librarians, and counselors.

Moreover, UTLA’s strategic organizing approach led to a thousand new union members—this, after the US Supreme Court Janus decision, which forces public employee unions to negotiate on behalf of all bargaining unit members but prohibits unions from collecting “fair-share” fees from those who do not choose to be union members. UTLA’s organizing victory highlights the potential of the labor movement to organize and build power even in a post-Janus world.

The focus of the first teachers’ strike in Los Angeles in thirty years was not on wages and benefits but on quality public education. Teachers were protesting the defunding of public schools, class sizes of forty to forty-five students per teacher, and the critical lack of essential school personnel, including nurses, librarians, and counselors. Forty years ago, California ranked number one in the nation in per pupil funding; today, California is forty-third in per pupil funding and forty-eighth in classroom size, even though the state has the fifth largest economy in the world. The decline in public schools has a disproportionate impact on people of color and the poor; ninety percent of LA public school students are racial minorities, and 72 percent qualify for reduced-cost lunch programs.

The defunding of our schools is no accident. Since the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, which limited taxes on real estate, billions of dollars have been transferred from public coffers to the largest corporate landowners in California. In addition, billions have been siphoned away from public schools to the growing number of private charter schools. National corporations supporting the charter school movement invested millions to elect a pro-charter majority to the LAUSD board, who in turn hired Austin Beutner as LA superintendent, a hedge fund multimillionaire with no experience in public education.

The impact of UTLA’s successful strike continues to resonate. Inspired by Los Angeles, teachers in Oakland and Denver have since gone on strike. The LAUSD school board voted to support a moratorium on future charter schools. And next year, a ballot initiative scheduled for the November election that if passed would curtail the impact of Proposition 13 and restore funds to California public schools.

Betty Hung is the staff director for the UCLA Labor Center. She previously directed the employment law unit at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and, as the policy director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, cofounded the multiracial College for All Coalition. She is the co-chair of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice and also serves on the boards of the Economic Roundtable and CLEAN Car Wash Worker Center.

Kent Wong is the director of the UCLA Labor Center, where he teaches courses in labor studies and Asian American studies. He previously served as staff attorney for the Service Employees International Union. He was the founding president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and of the United Association for Labor Education and currently is vice president of the California Federation of Teachers.

 

Credit: Brennan Center for Justice

These last two weeks, a court in San Antonio, Texas has taken evidence in a case challenging the state’s targeting of non-native born Americans who are legally registered to vote.  UCLA Lecturer, Chad Dunn, examined a number of witnesses in the trial including the architect of the voter purge, the state’s Director of Elections.  This week, the federal judge ruled against in the plan in a sharply worded order available HERE.  In the newly established UCLA Voting Rights Workshop Co-Chaired by Dr. Matt Barreto and Chad Dunn, students at UCLA are learning in real-time the legal theories, expert witness methods and case techniques needed to handle important cases such as this one.

You can read more about the case at the following links:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/28/us/texas-voter-rolls.html

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2019/02/20/state-employee-abruptly-resigned-after-working-texas-noncitizens-list-may-avoiding-court-appearance

https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/The-official-leading-Texas-effort-to-scrub-13632333.php

https://www.brennancenter.org/blog/restore-ex-felons-voting-rights-its-right-thing

The U.S. House Committee on Administration was authorized by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to conduct field hearings, at locations around the country, on voting rights issues. The committee decided to conduct its first such hearing in Brownsville, Texas. Last month, Civil Rights attorney and UCLA Lecturer, Chad Dunn, along with other civil rights attorneys, was asked to give testimony to the committee and to answer member questions.

To learn more about the specific voting rights issues discussed, watch the full hearing video HERE.