Advancement of Women Awards Given to Three

A professor, a student and an administrator have been honored with the 2014 University Award for the Advancement of Women.

The awards, which replaced a previous award for women in 2006, honor individuals who have mentored or supported women on campus, elevated the status of women or improved campus policies for them, promoted women’s recruitment and retention, or promoted professional development for women.

The honorees are Audrey Verde, a graduate student in the neuroscience curriculum in the School of Medicine; Donna M. Bickford, associate director for the Office of Undergraduate Research; and Karen Booth, a professor of women’s and gender studies.

Verde designed a course of study in the neuroscience program that provided exposure to a broad range of neurology rather than the traditional path of job-shadowing a physician.

She was selected as leader two years in a row for a team of about 20 students. Verde is a peer mentor for her team and arranges visits for interviewing students, taking special care to match women applicants with women host students. Her efforts have led to several of the interviewing students joining the program.

She created a student organization, Advocates for M.D.-Ph.D. Women in Science, to help fill a gap she saw in the career development for women students at Carolina in the translational sciences. The group meets monthly for discussions, panel presentations, book or journal clubs, and leadership training sessions.

Verde leads a group that works with children at Briar Creek Elementary School to help attract younger women into science.

Bickford was director of the Carolina Women’s Center, where she worked to improve campus policies affecting women staff, faculty and students. She raised awareness about the prevalence of illegal human trafficking in North Carolina, worked closely with the Employee Forum to raise awareness about domestic violence and its effects on the lives of women on campus and in the community, and worked on the “safe classrooms” initiative to ensure that women at Carolina enjoy a comfortable, safe experience both inside and outside the classroom.

Bickford serves on the Faculty Welfare Committee, where she is working on salary equity, retention and child-care matters that have long been areas of focus for her.

She also works with the Institute for the Arts and Humanities-sponsored Alt-Ac Working Group Initiative, which focuses on re-examining graduate student training to consider the changing job market and to create additional professional and leadership opportunities for women in higher education.

Booth’s influence on campus is not limited to her teaching and research in women’s and gender studies. She serves as the faculty adviser for Students United for Reproductive Justice and for Choice USA, a campus group focused on reproductive rights at UNC and in the community.

She also is a member of the University’s Title IX Task Force, which is working to improve Carolina’s sexual-assault policies.

In her role as director of undergraduate studies, Booth works closely with students to mentor them both professionally and personally.

Booth has been commended for her work with other professors to create the Provost’s Committee for LGBTQ Life and the Sexuality Studies Program. She still serves on the Sexuality Studies Committee and continues to teach classes on feminist theory, LGBTQ politics and reproductive health.

She has given presentations and facilitated discussion for World AIDS Day workshops, LGBTQ Unity Conference panels, Race Awareness Week and events focusing on sexuality and body image.

The three winners receive monetary awards — $5,000 for the faculty and staff winners and $2,500 for the scholar.

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