2014 Shaping the Future

Research sparks empathy

Esther Barker, a financial accounting assistant in radiation oncology at the Washington University School of Medicine, has no plans to switch careers now that she has earned a history degree from University College in Arts & Sciences.

Esther BarkerStill, she says her studies about female prostitution and the frequently counterproductive efforts to “help” women have changed how she approaches her work.

“One of the things I learned is how corrosive the ‘We’re right, you’re wrong’ attitude can be,” Barker said. “Even when people try to help others, they don’t always know what’s best for them. That’s a lesson I think we can all use every day — to treat others with more empathy.”

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