Rising Ground Discussion for October 21, 2021
Social Justice

Gender’s Shifting Dynamics: The Role of Women in Social Welfare


This event has been postponed. When the event is re-scheduled, we will update our calendar and homepage with the new date.

Join us for the third in a series of programs commemorating Rising Ground’s 190th anniversary with a discussion of the role of women in shaping the field and the professionalization of social work.  Rising Ground CEO Alan Mucatel will join Dr. SJ Dodd, PhD, MSW, of Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work, and Dr. Rebecca Jordan Young, PhD, Chair of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Barnard College. Building on the inaugural discussion in this series, we’ll examine the ways women have been the driving force, and the principal participants, in helping to affirm all experiences as they assist New Yorkers in overcoming a wide range of forms of adversity.

Register here to join the discussion.

Some History

When the Leake & Watts Orphan House opened in 1831, it had been just four years since New York, the first state to pass legislation for the total abolition of slavery, had fully emancipated slaves, while slavery was still alive and well throughout the region and nation. This coincides with various waves of immigration from across Europe, explaining the rapid expansion of New York during this time and an influx of orphaned children. As various national, religious, and ethnic groups grew in New York City throughout the 19th century, there was a broad landscape of distinct communities and biases that shaped the experience of each.

In its founding documents, the Leake & Watts Orphan House declared it would support orphaned children no matter their “creed or nationality.” While a progressive approach to handling various immigrant communities in that time, it would still be a little less than a century later that the institution welcomed its first African-American children, a community that had formed a parallel child welfare system and which brought its own set of social and economic challenges tied to the history of slavery and systems of oppression.

Today, more than 98% of the children, adults, and families Rising Ground supports are “of color.” Rising Ground supports New Yorkers who continue to see the social and economic disparities created by systemic biases. Alongside black communities facing the continuation of diminished socio-economic opportunity, Rising Ground supports various immigrant communities that look different from those of the 1830s. More broadly, the work Rising Ground does is both shaped by the experience of communities of color and in turn has a lasting impact on these communities.

2021 Discussion Series: 190 Years of Hope & Opportunity

This year, Rising Ground commemorates the 190th anniversary of the opening of the Leake & Watts Orphan House in Lower Manhattan in 1831, the beginning of a rich history that saw the organization evolve from an orphanage to one of New York City’s leading human services organizations. Today, programs range from foster care and family stabilization to special education and early childhood development to gender-based violence services, programs for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, juvenile justice programs, community health services, and more.

The series is a partnership between Rising Ground and Trinity Church Wall Street, site of the original Leake & Watts Orphan House and longtime partner.

Save this date for the next talk in the series:
•    December 8, 6:00-7:00pm

To learn more, please visit www.RisingGround.org/190.

About the Speakers

Head shot of SJ Dodd provided by Rising Ground

SJ Dodd, MSEd., MSW, PhD, is an Associate Professor, at the Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College, CUNY, and the CUNY Graduate Center. She is also founding Director of the Silberman Center for Sexuality and Gender (SCSG). Dr. Dodd is a social worker whose interests include elevating the visibility of sexuality in social work, LGBTQ social and health issues, and program evaluation. SJ chairs the Sexuality and Gender Field of Practice at Silberman and has taught Human Sexuality for the past 19 years. In addition to teaching, Dr. Dodd provides program evaluation, practice-based research, and statistics consultation for health and human service agencies. Dr. Dodd has also spent two decades addressing health disparities in the area of HIV/AIDS. Practice-Based Research in Social Work: A Guide for Reluctant Researchers (with Irwin Epstein) was published in 2011. Sex-Positive Social Work (Columbia University Press) was released in June 2020, and The Routledge International Handbook of Social Work and Sexualities came out in July 2021.

Head shot of Rebecca Jordan-Young

Rebecca Jordan-Young, PhD, is an interdisciplinary feminist scientist and science studies scholar whose work explores the reciprocal relations between science and the social hierarchies of gender, sexuality, class, and race.  She serves a Chair of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department at Barnard College. Her first book, Brain Storm: The flaws in the science of sex differences (Harvard University Press 2010), was the first systematic analysis of human studies bearing on the “brain organization” hypothesis, the idea that early hormone exposures “hardwire” sex differences into the human brain. In 2020, she coauthored (with Katrina Karkazis), Testosterone: An Unauthorized Biography, which looks at six domains of received wisdom about T — female reproduction, aggression, risk-taking, power, sports, and parenting — to show how stories about T don’t just seem to naturalize gender differences, but class and racial distinctions, as well. Rebecca is a core member of the international Neurogenderings Network and collaborates with colleagues in fields that range from cognitive and developmental neuroscience, developmental biology, and physical chemistry to cultural anthropology, political science, history, and sociology. Her publications appear in neuroscience, public health, medical, social science, and feminist journals, as well as in popular outlets like the New York Times, The Guardian, and Discover Magazine.

Social Justice, Speakers and Book Talks