In honor of the first-ever female majority in the New York City Council, the Gardiner-Shenker Student Scholars researched women in local government and utilized the Archives' City Council Collection. Of the Council's 51 district representatives, 31 of them are female, and they represent a wide variety of socio-economic backgrounds.

Over the course of the year, the students conducted primary research and learned about specific City Council members whom they wished to interview. The students prepared and workshopped their questions with their faculty mentors and peers before conducting oral history interviews in groups, as well as individually and in pairs.

The interviews were inspiring to the students, who all felt they'd gained new insight into the workings of city government. These interviews will be archived for future researchers at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives and excerpts are shared on this website. Students wrote papers and created photo projects based on issues that they discussed in the interviews.

With this project, we seek to encourage students to become more deeply engaged with their communities and district leaders. We hope to encourage active civic engagement and awareness of local government. Finally, this work celebrates the historic moment of having the first female majority in City Council, five female Deputy Mayors, and a female City Council Speaker, Adrienne Adams.

Click/hover on district

Interviews with Participating Elected Officials:

Student Work

Yakira Nunez
"When girls see women in leadership roles, they are encouraged to pursue the same path. Statistically, there are fewer women in these positions. Young women need to know that their ideas matter, their perspective matters, and their voices matter. It is important that they understand just how far their ambitions can take them."

Teresa DeVivo
"The women in our city government are a testimony to the changes that are taking place here in NYC. It has been fascinating to interview former and current Council Members who have truly had a positive, multiplier effect on other women."

Jophiel Astorga
"Women face tremendous barriers and push back when they pursue any leadership positions and it is important to analyze the journey they take to get to these important positions. These analyses can provide a clearer map on the impact that women have in leadership positions but also how we can continue to improve and promote a more equitable workforce."

Maria Fonseca Morales
"Women are often targeted and undermined by a system that protects the status quo. I love the idea of writing and creating historical artifacts that will document this current moment in history as women position themselves in leadership positions and as the city of New York experiences a boom in the involvement and representation of women it politics."

Josue Mendoza
"Time after time women have made a huge positive difference in the world. We can learn from their strength, persistence, intelligence, and the influence they have. Times are changing and it's exciting to see women and women of color/minorities become more of our leaders."

Kaja Conrad
"I think it is important to study women in leadership because we get insight into the struggles they may still face in historically male annals of power, and see how they overcome those struggles and perform effectively in the face of adversity. It is important for subsequent generations of women to know as much about those who came before them as possible, so they can prepare and continue to fight for themselves and each other."

Samantha Moura
"Overall, women are underrepresented in governmental positions because our patriarchal society raises them to be caregivers, oppresses them into undervaluing themselves, and discourages them at a young age from pursuing leadership positions. I joined this project because prejudice and oppression have impacted women's self-esteem, causing them to underestimate their abilities in higher level jobs."

We put together two pieces of supplementary materials. A booklet that traces the history of women in City Council up to the present moment and a video documenting our project.

The booklet contains archival images and a timeline of notable moments related to women in City Council that come from our collection, notes on every female member of the city council, portraits of the contemporary women in city council and a list of the Committees that they chair, quotes from the Gardiner-Shenker students, and an introduction from the College's President, Kenneth Adams.

The video documents the reflections of students and faculty mentors who participated in our project as well as excerpts from the interviews with Council Members.

    Project Team:
  • Molly Rosner, Director of Education Programs, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
  • Stephen Weinstein, Assistant to the Director, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
  • Project Mentors: Maureen Drennan, Lidiya Kan, Dr. Nichole Shippen, Dr. Anja Vojvodic
  • Fmr. Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Project Advisor
  • Riley Owens, Graphic Design, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
  • Brandon Calva, Video Editor, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
  • Mike Schuwerk, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Art Director and Designer
  • Oleg Kleban, Information Systems Associate, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
    Gardiner-Shenker Student Scholars:
  • Josue Mendoza
  • Yakira Nuñez
  • Teresa DeVivo
  • Jophiel Astorga
  • Samantha Da Silva Moura
  • Kaja Conrad
  • Maria Fonseca
    Special Thanks:
  • Kenneth Adams, President, LaGuardia Community College
  • Paul Arcario, Provost, LaGuardia Community College
  • Richard K. Lieberman, Director, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives
  • Soraya Ciego-Lemur, Interim Director, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives

This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the New York City Council and the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation.

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