Melissa Swauger

Dr. Melissa Swauger, an assistant professor of Sociology, has been selected by Pittsburgh Magazine and the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP) for its “40 under 40” recognition.

Developed in 1999, “40 under 40” recognizes forty individuals under the age of forty who are making a positive impact on the region's development, program organizers said.

Swauger will be honored November 6, 2009, at an event at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh. She will also be featured in the November issue of Pittsburgh Magazine.

A panel of twelve judges selected Swauger out of a pool of three hundred nominations. Winners are selected based on passion, commitment, visibility, diversity, and overall impact on the region, Erin Molchany, executive director of PUMP, said. PUMP encourages civic engagement, professional development, recreation, and social networking to advance the Pittsburgh region.

At IUP, Swauger teaches Sociology and conducts research on gender, race, and social class in education and work.

“The goal of my work is to help policymakers and employers see the benefits of investing in the futures of poor and working class girls, providers understand how to meet disadvantaged girls' unique education and career literacy needs, and girls living in the region become exposed to new and unfamiliar opportunities,” Swauger said.

She also is an active volunteer in projects that promote social justice for poor and working class girls and women, including Gwen's Girls, offering programming to girls ages 8 to 18; the Steering Committee of the Girls Coalition of Southwestern Pennsylvania; the Consortium for Public Education in Pittsburgh's Future Is Mine program, serving three hundred high school students in twenty-six school districts; Girls, Math and Science Partnership; and Women and Girls Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania's Catapult Program, designed to decrease the gender wage gap by providing training in salary negotiation to working women. She is also an online mentor for youth.

Swauger volunteered for the speakers bureau of the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics' Human Capital Policy Initiative and served on the conference organization committee of the 2009 Working Class Studies Association Annual Conference.

Before coming to IUP, Swauger was a faculty member at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, a teaching fellow at the University of Pittsburgh, an adjunct faculty member at the Community College of Allegheny County, and a teaching assistant at Duquense University's Center for Social and Public Policy.

In addition to the “40 under 40” award, Swauger was honored in 2009 with several research awards and with the Iris Marion Young Award from the University of Pittsburgh's Women's Studies Department for promoting social justice for women.

She has secured several competitive grants for her research and for service projects, has published curriculum guides for regional educational organizations, and has been an invited presenter and panelists at many professional conferences, colloquiums, and seminars on the topics of gender, class, and career.

While at Carlow University, she served on several university committees, co-organized the Gender, Delinquency, and Justice Symposium, and was an active participant in the Alternative Spring Break program.

Pittsburgh Magazine photo