READING, Pa. — E. Michele Ramsey, associate professor of communication arts & sciences and women's studies at Penn State Berks, has recently been honored with the 2016 Junior League of Reading Community Partner Award.
Ramsey’s work with the Junior League has focused on teaching young women and men different ways of thinking about femininity and masculinity. She has been a panel member for their screening of "Miss Representation," which explores the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America, and moderator for screenings of the documentaries "Girl Rising," a film about nine girls from different parts of the world who face arranged marriages, child slavery and other heartbreaking injustices, and "The Mask You Live In," which focuses on the struggles of boys and young men to stay true to themselves while negotiating America's narrow definition of masculinity.
Ramsey also created and offered a free parent training program on media literacy that the Junior League of Reading has offered to members, as well as the community. The training focuses on how to help children navigate the world of social media and how they should view media and its impact on their lives. Ramsey has volunteered with the Junior League on a variety of other projects over the past four years.
“The award means a great deal to me because it was given to me by an organization that works tirelessly to help girls in Reading in so many ways, including self-esteem, empowerment and leadership skills,” said Ramsey. “The members recognize the links between notions of femininity and masculinity and also work to help boys in our community understand the restrictions that notions of masculinity place on their lives, as well as on the lives of females. In other words, they have incredibly important goals they work toward, and they do that work recognizing the complexity of gender roles and their impact on boys and girls. I can't stress how important their work is.”
Like so many faculty members at Penn State Berks, Ramsey cares about how the work that she does in the classroom and in her research, and the influence of the media on society (and especially its future leaders), links directly to the public. She believes people can use that information to make better decisions about media use in their lives and learn how to counteract some of the more negative impacts of the media that children consume.
“Given the topics I study — media, gender and political communication — and their direct impact on our community, I am committed to contributing to my disciplinary knowledge through publishing research but am even more committed to sharing that disciplinary knowledge with the people that can use it; this is especially important at a land-grant institution like Penn State,” said Ramsey.
Since 1923, the Junior League of Reading has been a leader in volunteer services in Berks County. Nearly 400 members from every corner of Berks County pledge their support to the league’s mission.