To kick off Women’s History Month, we interviewed one of our very own members who has overcome barriers and is a fierce advocate for human rights; meet Paige Nicewaner. Nicewaner is a junior at Missouri State University studying Socio-Political Communication. She is an Associate Editor for LOGOS and also writes opinion pieces for The Standard Newspaper. In her writing, she often focuses on societal issues that plague oppressed groups of people, including women. In this interview, Nicewaner answers tough questions on her experiences as a woman and gives insight into what has motivated her through difficult situations.
Why did you join LOGOS?
I joined LOGOS because it seemed like a great opportunity to get more involved with the Honors college and learn more about the research MSU students were working on outside of my own field.
Tell me about some of your writing with topics that center on social issues.
Since high school, I’ve always been really passionate about social justice and politics, and The Standard gives me an outlet to express those interests. I’ve written about topics surrounding gender, race, class, and privilege and try to connect these issues to MSU students and give them a reason to care. One of my favorite stories I’ve written recently focuses on the term, “girl boss” and its popularity amongst young feminists. With the pandemic going on, many complex and systemic issues have been brought to light, so I think it’s important to bring awareness to these issues that have been happening for a long time, and that’s what I try to do in my writing.
Is there a particular woman that you look up to?
The first person that comes to mind is my mom. She’s outspoken and unabashedly herself. As a schoolteacher, there have been many times she has stood up to other teachers or the administration about decisions she didn’t think were right or just. She cares a lot about people, but never lets anyone drag her down or take advantage of her time and work. She pushes to make sure her efforts are recognized, and I really admire that about her.
Have you ever experienced sexism in academia? How did you move forward?
There have definitely been times where I’ve felt like my voice as a woman has not been respected or appreciated, unlike my male peers in the classroom. If I’m in a class or small group with mostly men, I’m often interrupted, and it’s much harder to make sure my opinion is taken into consideration. Banding together with other women and sharing our experiences helps me move forward and be more vocal to ensure my opinions are better recognized. After realizing that my work is just as impressive, if not more impressive than men in my field, I’ve been able to overcome some of the doubts people have of me as a woman.
Were you ever made to believe you couldn’t do something because you’re a woman?
People, namely men, typically question and doubt my ideas as a woman more so than they do with other men. It is assumed that women are not as smart as men, so for a long time, I thought my work would never be as good. After so many times of being talked down to and patronized, you begin to doubt your own abilities as well. After a long time, I finally realized that my work is important and impressive and should be recognized as such.
What advice would you give young women in academia?
As a young woman in academia, you’re bound to come across biased people who doubt your abilities before even giving you the chance to showcase them, especially for women of color. People are going to try and adopt your ideas as their own. Don’t wait for recognition to come; take credit for your work and stand up for yourself. You’re going to face scrutiny, some of which will probably come from yourself. Protect your mental health and give yourself a break sometimes.
Do you have any advice on how to deal with stress?
In order to deal with stress, I like to talk to my friends, who are really great at making me feel calmer if I am anxious about something. The pandemic has definitely made me more stressed out, so I try to find creative outlets to distract myself. I love painting, cooking, and writing; all of those things have been greatly helpful to my mental health while living in COVID times. It can be difficult to manage stress on your own, so I absolutely encourage people to seek professional help if they have the means to do so.