Aug. 10, 2022
iSaw ESG graphic

132 years.  

That’s how long it will take to achieve global gender equality. The gap between men and women in economic opportunity, educational achievement, health and survival, and political empowerment is vast— and closing at a snail's pace.  

But what if it didn’t have to take that long? 

That’s the question that five students from the W.A. Franke Honors College are asking. These students recently became involved in groundbreaking research regarding women’s equality in the world, as well as advancing Environmental, Social and Governance policies (ESG) in the workplace. Their project, ESG and Gender Equality: A Catalyst for Accelerating ESG and Beyond, was conducted in collaboration with the International Strategic Accelerator for Women and Ascent Growth Partners.  

From the classroom to the boardroom 

Dr. Lysette Davi, Assistant Director of the Honors Global Experience at the Franke Honors College, was the catalyst for involving students in this important research opportunity. Dr. Davi is an international educator and previously taught HNRS 314: Ideas Into Action. In this course, Dr. Davi matched students with different non-profits in Southern Arizona. Typically these organizations would have a complex problem that needed solving, and allow students to assist them in finding the best possible solution to pave a way forward. During 2020, however, when the pandemic pushed everyone into a virtual space, Dr. Davi saw an opportunity to expand the course's horizons and get students involved with international organizations. She connected several students to the International Strategic Accelerator for Women (iSAW), an organization that empowers women and is working toward achieving global gender equality. Nancy Speidel, Founder and CEO of iSAW, partnered with Dr. Lysette Davi in mentoring the students throughout the entire research process. 

Diagram of ESG intersections made by the students

ESG Venn Diagram that the Franke Honors students created as an integral part of this research.

The students’ findings were significant, indicating that global gender equality could be made possible in our lifetime with multipliers, such as shifting business mindsets to be more inclusive of women. In addition to gender equalization, ESG business values would advance as well. For example, if women have more leadership and value in the workplace, the workplace then should also experience strengthened commitments to their Environmental, Social, and Governance policies. The full report and finding can be found on the iSAW website. At the conclusion of their research, the students presented virtually to an international board. 

“Student research can have global implications. When the students presented their findings to the board, it was a lightbulb moment for all who were there— we truly have the capacity to realize gender equality.” said Davi. 

Dr. Davi described a transformation that one student experienced while working on this project. Before the outcome of the research was uncovered, the student expressed feeling like the pursuit of gender equality was hopeless. At the end of the semester, the student felt empowered by the outcome of their research, finding that gender equality was attainable. 

“The belief that the students had in their own abilities at the end of this process was amazing. It’s opportunities like this that make the Franke Honors college a space for students to experience growth, both personally and academically.” remarked Dr. Davi. 

Meet the Franke Honors Researchers

Headshot of Drake Galouzes

Drake Galouzes – Student Research Lead for Social

Drake is an undergraduate student studying Anthropology, German and Japanese. 

“My hope is that our research and this report will be used to reduce the 100+ year date where these rights will be achieved to something we will experience within our lifetime.” 

Headshot of Eliana Raspet

Eliana Raspet – Student Research Lead for Environment

Eliana is a recent Franke Honors graduate with a BA in Global Studies and a minor in Environmental Studies.

“Gender equality is not something that can be solved in the near future, so it can seem like a hopeless pursuit. This report demonstrates that this is not the case, and that achieving gender equality is not only an attainable goal but is also beneficial to businesses, individuals and the environment.” 

Headshot of Kevin Nisterenko

Kevin Nisterenko – Student Research Lead for Governance

Kevin is from Brazil and is a junior at the University of Arizona studying Computer Science. 

“In researching about ESG and women in Governance, I not only learned about how we are currently going about equity in a company’s organization, but how women can shape a company from top to bottom in an innovative way.” 

Headshot of Regan Bakke

Regan Bakke – Student Research Lead for Environment

Regan is an undergraduate student studying Elementary Education and Music 

“The simple fact is, when gender equality is valued, businesses flourish. When this report is released, I hope people realize that by respecting a woman’s place in business, it is not only impactful for the woman’s community. It is beneficial to all aspects of our world.” 

Catherine Hill – Student Research Lead for Social

Catherine Hill is an undergraduate student studying Journalism and Government. 

Start your research now! 

One of the many benefits of being a Franke Honors student is having access to research opportunities at a Tier 1 university during your undergraduate career. There are many different research-oriented experiences that students can participate in at the Franke Honors College, including taking courses like HNRS 314 that connect students to experiential learning taking place within their communities.   

Learn more about Franke Honors research