Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Senior advocates for equality in the workplace

Sara Rosenblum '14Ever since Sara Rosenblum ’14 took the course “Feminism, Philosophy and the Law” during junior year, the issue of women’s equality in the workplace has been at the forefront of her thinking.

“Professor Stephen Mathis opened my eyes to the contradictions of society’s expectations of women, family and work,” she recalls of the class. “Our discussions were very deep, as students from many majors—including legal studies, women’s studies and philosophy—brought very different ideas to the table.”

Besides thinking about the issues, Rosenblum also has been doing something to address them on campus and off. Last summer, she interned at the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), a Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

The CLUW internship provided the perfect venue for her to continue what she considers a significant conversation. “Even though labor unions play a large role in matters such as paid sick days and pay equity, they are not often talked about by my generation. For many of us, these workplace issues will become very real, very soon,” she says.

Throughout the summer, Rosenblum was deeply involved in the labor movement, which her family has been passionate about for generations. Her great-great-grandfather was active in England’s bricklayers union; her great-grandparents were avid labor union supporters in the 1920s and 1930s; and her great-grandfather was a member and advocate of the International Union of Operating Engineers in Baltimore in the 1950s.

That family history became more salient through her work at CLUW, she says. Rosenblum focused on a number of legislative issues and helped increase chapter involvement by writing posts on the organization’s blogs. On the road, she lobbied for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, proposed federal legislation that would prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity. She also attended the unveiling of a female-focused economic agenda by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). She chronicled many of her experiences on the organization’s blog.

Rosenblum notes that the internship helped bring her interest in social justice full circle. Growing up in Pittsburgh’s inner-city schools, she spoke out against class and race inequality during protests to the school board about a student tracking system she deemed racially charged. At Wheaton, she has been a student representative on the Sexual Misconduct Assault and Resource Team, and has been involved in the Feminist Association of Wheaton. Now she’s focused on equality for women—something she says will set a path for her career.

“I want to be involved in women’s rights, whether through community organizations or education. I daydream about incorporating initiatives into public school curriculums to help raise awareness at an early age about issues such as body image and female stereotypes in math and science programs.”

—Kristen L. Walsh