Jada Hester ’20 was named one of ten WomenNC Scholars from across the state. WomenNC is a local non-profit committed to finding solutions to advance women’s human rights and gender equality. As part of the program, Hester’s research focused on the wage gap among women in Durham, North Carolina — specifically, the disparity between pay for white and non-white women. She was also afforded the opportunity to participate in the Juanita M. Bryant United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Leadership Training Program and present her research at the WomenNC’s Annual Local-to-Global Forum, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and the NC State Gender and Equity Research Symposium.
When originally determining her research topic, Hester, who majors in business administration and international studies, showed an interest in the lack of high-level female executives in the Triangle. Ultimately, though, she decided to pursue the wage gap disparity in Durham because while the city has one of the lowest wage gaps in the country, it is disproportionate for women of color. Her goal: Shine a light on the need for intersectional legislation. To do this, Hester chose the approach of comparing the personal challenges and barriers associated with the nationwide gender wage gap to the racialized wage gap among women in Durham. Some of the nuances explored included defining the diversity of “struggling” minorities, examining the variances of abuse of power in the workplace, and measuring the long-term effects of pay inequality. Based on the statistical analysis of a survey she conducted from community stakeholders, her research also provides concrete policy recommendations for the city of Durham.
Hester has also leveraged her experience in the Park Scholarships to enhance her research. She says, “[The Park program] has afforded me access to countless resources and mentorships that have proven vital to my academic and personal growth. Discussions with my fellow scholars during our scheduled events and meetings have allowed me to learn and mature greatly in all four pillars of the program. I think experiencing the Learning Labs, both from a planning and a participatory standpoint, have had the largest impact on my Park Scholar experience thus far.”