Trask at TEDx
UD professor explains how global changes affect family dynamics.
10:06 a.m., Sept. 13, 2012--Attendees at the first TEDxWilmington conference were treated to an 18-minute presentation by the University of Delaware’s Bahira Sherif Trask, professor of human development and family studies and an expert in globalization and family dynamics.
Originating in California 25 years ago, TED invites the world’s leading thinkers and doers to support world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. Internationally, TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall and Richard Branson.
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Wilmington’s first TEDx event took place last month at the Delaware Art Museum. Nearly 100 guests listened to four speakers, who then intermingled to spark deep discussion and connection within small groups.
Trask’s presentation focused on the relationship between globalization and family change in Western and non-Western contexts. She shared several stories from her research about the changing family dynamics around the world.
- Fifteen years ago, in a small town in northern Mexico, the men and women had traditional roles – the men worked in the fields and the women oversaw meals, child care and domestic chores. Ten years ago, a factory opened outside of the town, and the women now began to travel an hour and a half to the factory, work 10-hour days and return home. There, they continue to handle all the domestic chores, raising the question about improvements in their quality of life.
- As women join the workforce, countries around the world are experiencing higher rates of divorce – even in countries where divorce has a stigma attached to it, such as Ghana, Korea and Nigeria. Women who have financial independence are much more likely today to initiate divorce if they are not happy.
- In the U.S., 42 percent of children are now born outside of marriage. But Trask said researchers are finding that, compared to the 1960s, both men and women are spending more time with their children, even though many more women work out of the home.
So, is this good or bad?
Trask doesn’t pass judgment, but rather explores the impact these types of shifts have on the economy, families and relationships. Instead, she suggests that we need to be aware of these social transformations and respond to the changed social environment
“We are in the midst of an incredible social transformation,” explains Trask. “It’s a radical and permanent transformation and it’s happening very quickly. It’s accelerated now. What I’m trying to do is raise awareness, so we can put in place programs and policies that will help individuals and families with these new phenomena.”
A TEDx event organized by UD students was held on campus in April. The theme was “sustainable curiosity.”
Article by Alison Burris
Photo by Evan Krape