March 12, 2009

Case Western Reserve Student Earns U.N. Internship


The month of March is designated as Women's History Month, and a Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences student is devoting several months to working for the betterment of women worldwide.

Moon Choi, a doctoral degree candidate, began interning through the United Nations (U.N.) Headquarters Internship Programme in February. Based in New York, she works for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Her assignments involve analyzing the gender distribution data in the UN system and preparing for a session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which is being observed through Friday, March 13.

The Commission on the Status of Women is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. It is the principal global policy-making body. Every year, representatives of member states gather at U.N. headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide.

"My project is to analyze the data on the gender distribution in the U.N. system (U.N. secretariat and 31 agencies) over a decade and write reports based on the results of analysis. I also prepare and attend interdepartment/interagency meetings on the gender balance issue in the U.N. system," Choi explained.

She's discovered some interesting statistics while conducting her research."The goal of my office is to achieve a 50/50 gender balance at all levels of employment in the U.N. system. This goal has been achieved at the entry level, but at director levels, only 27 percent are women."


The objectives of the U.N. internship program include:

  • Provide a framework by which graduate and post-graduate students from diverse academic backgrounds may be assigned to U.N. offices where their educational experience can be enhanced through practical work assignments.
  • Expose them to the work of the United Nations.
  • Provide U.N. offices with the assistance of highly qualified students specialized in various professional fields.
  • According to the U.N. Web site, about 200 interns are accepted for each session. Choi's internship continues through April.

    She applied for the internship online last fall. "They sent me U.N. reports four hours before the interview. The telephone interview took about 30 minutes, and I was asked to give a critique on the report and to talk about my knowledge about social and economic affairs." She was offered the internship about 10 days later.

    Choi has a long-standing interest in making life more equitable for people. "I have conducted several studies on social inequality for my graduate years. My internship project at the U.N. secretariat is also on social inequality, specifically, gender inequality. Through this internship experience, I have begun to pay more attention to the gender issue."

    Her dissertation topic is "The Role of Transportation Support in the Driving Cessation Among Older Adults." She said the internship is helping her form a different research perspective. "I have gained a global view of social sciences and become more knowledgeable of current issues in less- and least-developed countries."

    Upon completion of her studies at Case Western Reserve, Choi said she's open to career opportunities both in academia and with the U.N.

    For more information contact Kimyette Finley, 216.368.0521.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, March 12, 2009 11:50 AM | News Topics: Graduate Studies, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Research, Students, features

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