UC women have been knocking down gender barriers since the university opened its doors more than 150 years ago, from architect Julia Morgan to astronaut Sally Ride.
But those who make change don’t always make headlines. Right this minute, there are people across UC who are working in ways both big and small to advance gender equality and create new opportunities for women.
This Women’s History Month, we celebrate some of the inspiring women in our community who are doing the extra work to make space for women. As these women demonstrate, the quest for equality can be seamlessly integrated into our personal and professional lives, every single day.
Meet Silvia Arabia, UCSF School of Nursing
Silvia Arabia, a nursing student at UCSF, is on a mission to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for women of color and their babies.
And what could be more urgent? The U.S. has a higher maternal mortality rate than any other developed nation, and it’s even worse for black women, who are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than white women.
Arabia’s calling is a natural outgrowth of the work she did as a doula, providing emotional support for pregnant women from marginalized communities before, during and after childbirth. In 2015, she began working as a research coordinator at UCSF, eventually becoming program director for the SOLARS program (Supporting Our Ladies And Reducing Stress to Prevent Preterm Birth), which works to understand and reduce the impact of stress, anxiety and racism on pregnant women of color.
SOLARS changed her career trajectory completely: Hearing and seeing firsthand how women of color were mistreated during their pregnancies, she realized she couldn’t listen to these stories any longer without doing something more. That’s when she decided to become a nurse practitioner herself.
“Black and brown women are dying,” she says. Arabia is now enrolled in UCSF’s Master’s Entry Program in Nursing — an accelerated nursing program for students with no prior nursing training or experience. After one year, she will receive her RN and from there will specialize, graduating with a master’s in nursing, and becoming a certified midwife and nurse practitioner.
Read the full story about Arabia and other UC women who are helping to foster equality every day in the University of California newsroom.