November 24, 2015

Student from SUNY Empire's Czech Program Presents Research at Student Academic Conference

International student Kristina Borovkova and college Provost Alfred Ntoko at the 2015 Student Academic Conference. Kristina Borovkova (left, with Provost Alfred Ntoko) flew all the way from the Czech Republic in October to present research at the 11th annual Student Academic Conference in Albany. The conference took place Oct. 23 and 24. Although she’d visited New York City before, she had never been to the Albany area, and she pronounced the Capitol building one of the “most beautiful buildings” she had ever seen.

Borovkova, a native of Kazakhstan who studies with the college’s international program in Prague, attended the conference to present her research on income inequality and how it can be eliminated by closing the gender/wage gap in the USA. She noted that many countries, primarily the democratic socialist nations of Scandinavia, have done a much better job addressing gender-based inequality. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden "are at the top in gender equality. That says something about them, about their people, how they are impacting society,” she said.

In the European Union overall, where 40 percent of women work full time, women earn 16 percent less than men do. The employment rate for women is 63 percent; for men it’s 75 percent. In the U.S., the employment rate for women is 58.6 percent and for men it is 69.7 percent. However, there is a larger wage gap in the U.S., which has historically been in the forefront of the feminist movement. A frequently quoted statistic is that American women make 70 cents for every dollar men earn. When comparing women of color, the gap is even greater: 54 cents on the dollar. Muslim women are facing challenges in Europe as well.

“Forty years ago, the women in Iceland took to the streets,” Borovkova said, refusing to do any work whatsoever – no childcare, housework or cooking – “to fight for their rights. Can you imagine the impact? Men were running around with the kids, and basically the whole government stopped.”

Borovkova went on, “Whether you are a man or a woman, I don’t care…I am against quotas. I am fighting for equal rights, equal payment for that work, so women have an equal chance.”

Borovkova spoke approvingly of a slide showing Italian representative Licia Ronzulli casting a vote with a baby in her arms, in the EU parliament.

Borovkova plans to continue her research and delve more deeply into the reasons for the differing gender-equality statistics in the U.S. and Europe, exploring issues of affordable childcare, parental leave, the so-called leadership/ambition gap and male/female cooperation. She said that women shouldn’t be judgmental – which they can be, even in Europe – of a man playing in a park with his child during working hours.

“Women, let’s not judge; it’s a personal decision,” she said.

Borovkova said she enrolled in SUNY Empire because she was looking for a high-quality, affordable American education. From a very young age, she desired to go abroad to study, and eventually enrolled in Houston Community College for her associate degree. After determining that traveling to the U.S. to get a bachelor’s degree was not feasible, she enrolled in the college’s international program in the Czech Republic, which is offered in partnership with New York College. She has been very pleased with her choice. 

“What’s important is knowledge,” Borovkova says. “The team of professors are the greatest people I have ever met. They come from different schools, with different degrees and different backgrounds. They value what is learned from work experience and are conversant in current affairs. That’s what I love about Empire State College’s team of professors.”

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