Philadelphia Inquirer Honors CLA Alumna as a ‘Future Leader’
By: Nick Santangelo
March is Women’s History Month, and the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) will be celebrating some of our women who’ve made (or are making) history all month long. We got a jump start by closing out Black History Month with a story about an alumna who earned a historic promotion. With March now underway, we’re continuing that effort by highlighting Brittany Bronson, CLA ’14, who was honored as a Future Leader at the Philadelphia Inquirer’s inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Awards Gala this past November.
Work with Purpose
A former sociology major and the owner of Rebrand Career Consulting, Bronson won the award because of her professional commitment to closing the wage, promotion and hiring gaps for black women. Bronson credits her CLA sociology courses with making that possible by teaching her about the barriers to access faced by marginalized populations.
“When I received the award, and they told me about all the nominations, I really felt affirmed, and I felt like I am doing what I was put here to do,” says Bronson. “I'm using the data to say that black women still are paid less. Black women are paid something like 13 cents less than white men on the dollar.
“Receiving that award really reminded me that I'm still doing the work that I was put here to do, and I'm still doing work that's necessary.”
Even as a student, Bronson knew that work had to revolve around changing the lives of people who looked like her. But even students with a broad vision for their future rarely enter college knowing precisely what direction to move in to realize that vision. It was no different for Bronson, but she found her way here in North Philadelphia.
Her CLA sociology research focused on understanding breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among low income populations around the city. Bronson credits her research work with teaching her how to use IBM’s SPSS software to manipulate and parse data to find solutions. It’s a skill that later served her well when she worked as the city’s Assistant Managing Director and had to evaluate and revise Philadelphia Police Department policies.
“There was a study that came out that said that black male drivers are pulled over most frequently in Philadelphia,” recalls Bronson. “And so when I did the actual data and used my Temple education to make the changes in SPSS, what I found is that Philadelphia is a unique city because we're a majority-minority city. It absolutely makes sense that the majority of drivers pulled over would be minorities because that's the majority of the population.
“So, being able to use data to explain, even for marginalized populations, really convoluted and really complicated data in a way that even they can understand how a news article was inaccurate. I really credit my Temple education for giving me that sort of foundation of understanding data, and manipulating data and explaining complicated data.”
Persistence Pays Off
Complexity is exactly what Bronson sees in Philly, the country’s poorest large city but one of Pennsylvania’s wealthiest cities. Bronson’s determined to make a difference for the city’s marginalized populations who face barriers like being food or housing insecure, being unable to afford higher education, or having trouble landing a job. With her professional development company Rebrand, she does just that by focusing on promoting equitable access for minority candidates, women in corporate spaces and nontraditional workers.
A native of nearby Mount Airy, Pennsylvania, Bronson’s own educational path took a bit of a complicated path. She became pregnant with her first son at 21 and transferred to Temple University from Morgan State University. Bronson chose Temple because she wanted to immerse herself in the diverse cultures and urban atmosphere of Temple’s Philadelphia campus. Now she wants today’s students who made the same choice to follow in her footsteps and make a difference after graduation.
“Be authentic and be honest about the work that you want to do,” recommends Bronson. “When I was at Temple, and I was researching breastfeeding disparities, there was no one else doing it, so it was very hard to find data.
“But I had a network of support in the form of varying professors who were there and who were in my department who we were just championing me, saying, ‘If the data isn't there, that means that you need to do to research to build out the data. Because that means that there's a gap in research and this means that there's a gap in learning.’
“So, I say again, be authentic. Just because the research isn't available doesn't mean you can't do your research to create your own body of knowledge base.”