Conference recognizes contributions of women

Shawn Carey, Staff Writer

GenderStudies Conference-webStarted in March of 1993, the Wilkes University Women’s and Gender Studies Conference has been about celebrating the role women have taken in society.

The 21st annual conference will be held on March 20 and 21 at Wilkes University. The conference is a joint effort between Wilkes University and King’s College, a partnership that began three years ago.

“The conference is meant to recognize contributions that women have made,” Dr. Jennifer Thomas, conference director, said, “It is an opportunity to come together and celebrate those things.”

Thomas is the head of the Women and Gender Studies program at Wilkes. The conference is a joint effort with Kings. Dr. Robin Field is the director of Women’s Studies at King’s College.

Thomas said the reason behind joining forces with King’s was in line with the mission at Wilkes.

“Part of the mission at Wilkes and the values the university holds is that we should give back to the community,” Dr. Thomas said, “To open opportunities and draw a bigger crowd from the community.”

The theme for this year’s conference is “Revolutionary Women.” The conference will kick-off Wednesday with a keynote address by Melinda Henneberger, who famously uncovered the sexual abuse scandal at Notre Dame University.

“We’re tremendously excited to have a journalist of her caliber as our keynote speaker,” Field said, “She will give us very valuable insights into the serious problem of sexual violence on college campuses across the United States.”

Thomas said they had received more proposals than ever before for potential speakers. This year, the conference has over 100 speakers and presenters.

“We have panels representing many disciplines — business, communication studies, education, nursing, sociology,” Thomas said, “So it is a very broad array of presentations.”

Field said she hopes attendees receive “a greater awareness of gender issues and women’s issues in any sense.”

The conference will be held on the Wilkes University campus. All sessions are free and open to the public.