York University Education PhD student Jill Andrew has been awarded at $7,500 grant from the Soroptimist Foundation of Canada, beating out more than 400 other applicants for the prestigious award.
"It has really been quite an honour," she said this week. Nothing says good company, she added, than knowing she was picked over so many other candidates. "It means a lot, it was not an award based strictly on academic credentials, they look at your community commitment as well."
That community commitment has already garnered Ms. Andrew the 2008 Michele Landsberg Award from the Canadian Women's Foundation which recognizes women younger than 30 who are outstanding feminists in the areas of media and/or activism. In 2010 it also resulted in a call from the Governor General's office inviting her to be one of 120 women from across the country to participate in the first ever Governor General's Womens Conference "Together for Women's Security" hosted by then Governor General Michaëlle Jean at Rideau Hall. As well, she was among the seven conference participants chosen to draft the "Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities for Women in Canada Communique" for presentation to Parliament.
For more than a decade, Ms. Andrew has been an active lifestyle, community, education and careers columnist. She is a founder/director of BITE ME!, the Toronto International Body Image Film and Arts Festival, a founder of the Curvy Catwalk Fashion Fundraiser and co-founder of the Fat in the City fashion, news and lifestyle blog.
Her dissertation is titled "Abject in the City? Stories of Female Corporeality from the Margins" and focuses on female body images, personal narratives both in-person and online, body (re)presentations in popular culture and body activisms as resistances against controlling images and socially dominant normalized body ideals.
With an Honours B.A., B.Ed. and M.A. in Women's Studies (Toronto) behind her, Ms. Andrew said she had a difficult choice to make before entering grad school, between following up on her Master's in Women's Studies or continuing on in Education based on her B.Ed.. She chose to do her PhD in Education rather than Women's Studies after discussions with some of her professors. "The education doctorate will open more doors," she said. Either one would have been an effective way to fulfill her desire to work in the community. "I just want to try and do meaningful work in the community."
The mission of the Soroptimist Foundation is to provide educational funding for the advancement of human rights and the status of women. According to the foundation's website, the $7,500 grants are designed "to assist [female graduate students] with university studies which will qualify them for careers which will improve the quality of women's lives."