Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight

October 10, 2007:

Paula Goldman *01 organized an online forum for women from around the world to discuss common challenges they face. (Adrianne Koteen)

PROFILE - Paula Goldman *01
Motivating women to speak out

By the time she earned her master’s degree in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School, Paula Goldman *01 had been all over the world, working on conflict resolution, human rights, and community-building programs. During her travels, Goldman, now 32, had noticed that although women of her generation enjoyed levels of education and career advancement unknown to their mothers, they still had struggles, like how to balance career and family. But she didn’t hear them talking about their challenges the way women of the previous generation had. Goldman decided it was “time to start a new conversation.”

Goldman teamed up with the San Francisco-based International Museum of Women to tell the story of the “most educated, most well-traveled, most professionally empowered ... generation of women.” She contacted women’s and community groups around the world and asked them to solicit writings and artwork from women in their 20s and 30s, answering the question: “What defines your generation?” More than 3,000 women from 105 countries submitted essays, photos, paintings, and poetry. A Canadian woman of Indian and Pakistani descent sent pictures she took on a pilgrimage to Mecca to express her struggle to find her identity. The project, called “Imagining Ourselves,” released a coffee-table anthology of the submissions last year titled Imagining Ourselves: Global Voices from a New Generation of Women. An exhibit (http://imaginingourselves.imow.org) went up on the Internet. And exhibits showcasing the submissions have taken place at galleries and conferences in more than 30 countries.

The Web-based exhibit also hosts forums where the conversation Goldman sought is now taking place. Women from more than 100 countries discuss everything from relationships with men and the impact of a woman’s appearance on her identity to how the enormity of opportunities women face can be overwhelming.

Goldman, who studied at Princeton how art and culture can be a gateway for engagement on public policy issues, hopes the exhibit, Web site, and book will encourage women to become active in their communities. After the Web site hosted a discussion about the health complications that women in some countries experience after giving birth, visitors clicked through to maternal health organizations and donated money and signed up for mailing lists.

Goldman, who joined the staff of the International Museum of Women after starting “Imagining Ourselves,” lives in London and also is working on a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard. She will continue to curate new material through the end of 2007 for the online exhibit, which will stay up indefinitely. P

By E.B. Boyd ’89

E.B. Boyd ’89 is a freelance writer in San Francisco.