International Women's Day: Faculty Spotlight Dr. Sarina Molina

Dr. Sarina Molina and Children
begin quote In the field of education, teachers are predominantly women and I believe this is because as women, we are often seen as the first teachers of our children. In my culture, we are also seen as the custodians and guardians of tradition and language.

March 8th is International Women's Day. To celebrate and recognize this day, we sat down with a few female leaders from the  School of Leadership and Education Sciences including Dr. Sarina Molina, Associate Dean and Associate Professor in the Department of Learning and Teaching.

Why is it important for SOLES to value the role of women in your degree program?
In the field of education, teachers are predominantly women and I believe this is because as women, we are often seen as the first teachers of our children. In my culture, we are also seen as the custodians and guardians of tradition and language.

We do see a gap in fields that have been disproportionately represented by men, such as science, technology, engineering, and math. Many of our teacher candidates are challenging this inequity and advocating for their female students at an earlier age to pursue these fields in their culminating research work for their program. This is a systemic issue that involves histories, communities, and long-standing beliefs and perceptions that will take some time to shift, but it will shift.

In my leadership role, however, I believe we do have some work to do in our efforts to include more diverse voices and voices of women. The yin/yang balance is important in any profession. As a leader, I am seeking to transform leadership entrenched in power and control to one that is grounded in compassion, kindness, and deep value for human dignity.

How do you lift up the women in your life/community?
For the past 10 years, I have facilitated a book club for South Asian women in the San Diego area. Through reading both Indian and other authors, we have had opportunities to come together in our shared lived experiences, particularly as mothers and women of color. It is one of the many ways in which we lift each other.

How do you choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequity?
I make a conscious effort to include all voices as best I can in our work in SOLES, whether it be committees or working groups. In our work this year, we are hosting faculty open house events on the topic of decolonizing pedagogies and practices where we have analyzed our syllabi and research from this lens. In our next event, we plan to analyze our tangible and intangible space in SOLES in an effort to make SOLES a more inclusive space for our students, staff, and faculty. I have also launched our inaugural SOLES-wide book club for students, staff, and faculty to engage in a book study together. This year, we have selected Wilkerson's book, "Caste: The origins of our discontents," and hope to discuss the themes of caste and race and the implications of this in our continued transformation work in SOLES.

What do you hope is accomplished through celebrating International Women's Day? 
I want to truly honor this day (and of every moment of every day) both my grandmothers who were child brides at the age of 13. They each bore 10 children. They showed tremendous courage and strength as they fled their homeland during the partition of India and Pakistan. In India, they began a new life in hopes that they could provide a better life for their children.

I also wish to honor my mother, who passed some years ago. She was a great woman who sacrificed everything for my sisters and myself. She was humble and deeply spiritual, and without her deep devotion, resilience, and love for us, I know we would not be where we are today. I wish to honor her memory and the memory of my ancestors.

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