Dr. Aída Hurtado, a social psychologist who holds the Luis Leal Endowed Chair in the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has spent her career educating students in the fields of psychology and Chicano studies. In her new book, she explores Chicana Intersectional Feminisms: Sitios y Lenguas (Spaces and Languaging). She also shared the stage with other renowned leaders during the Women’s March on Washington.

On Friday, May 10, Hurtado will be the featured speaker at the United Way of Ventura County’s Women United Third Annual Luncheon, titled “Power of the Purse,” honoring single moms who are pursuing their education.

Dr. Aida Hurtado

Hurtado set some time aside to answer a few questions about her background and the current state of affairs for women, especially women of color.

Tell us about your childhood, where you grew up and what drew you to pursue women’s issues.

I grew up in a family of strong women who sustained their families and worked hard to have their children succeed. My mother, grandmothers and aunts are no different than many working class women of color whose hard work catapult the next generation to greater success than what they experienced in life.

What are the most frustrating issues for women, especially women of color?

Women’s issues are trivialized and not given the proper attention given women’s participation in the labor force and their educational success. When the Women’s March stated that the “future was female” they meant the country’s well-being is in women’s hands. However, issues of equal pay for equal work, childcare issues and sexual violence are not at the forefront of the national agenda. 

How can equity issues be more easily resolved than the path we are on now? Why are women still facing these issues?

Integration of women at all levels of leadership in all institutions is necessary for women’s issues to be address.  If you examine any institution at the highest levels — from academia to the corporate world — women are still a rarity at the highest levels of decision making. 

What are your feelings on the #MeToo movement on what it did and did not do to address sexual assault and harassment?

The #MeToo movement was long time coming. The behavior of men in the workplace and at home has existed forever but women did not feel they could speak up. Once the gate was open the stories came pouring out. The time was right and some important actions and consequences took place. All social movements experience moments of advancement then lulls. For almost a year very powerful men were held accountable for their past behavior and some even suffered consequences. Now there is somewhat of a lull but another burst of change will certainly come. We are patient, we will wait. 

The luncheon will be held 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday, May 10, at California Lutheran University’s Gilbert Sports & Fitness Center, 60 W. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks. All proceeds will benefit United Way programs. Luncheon tickets, $125 each, are available online at vcunitedway.org.