Call for Proposals: Women’s and Gender Studies Conference

Wilkes, Kings: “Identity at a Crossroads: Third-Wave Feminism and Intersectionality”

Amanda Bialek, Asst. LAE Editor

Wilkes University and King’s College invites students, staff, faculty and community members to participate in the upcoming 2017 Women’s and Gender Studies Conference, “Identity at a Crossroads: Third-Wave Feminism and Intersectionality.” This is an opportunity for the community to share their thoughts about gender-related topics and learn from each other.

The term intersectionality means that there are many different facets of identity that combine to create who we are individually and as a society, Dr. Robin Field, King’s director of women’s studies said.

“Intersectionality says we need to combine our way of understanding different identities and work across groups in order to challenge structures that prevent us from being who we truly are,” Field said.

This year, conversations at the conference are meant to focus on questions of diversity and inclusion for contemporary and historical debates regarding women and gender.

“The theme is pointing out that feminism is an evolving, theoretical understanding of the world,” Field said.

This conference is held to bring awareness to the way that gender intersects with other social category variables, Dr. Jennifer Thomas, Wilkes’ director of women’s and gender studies said.

Some aspects that gender crosses over with include socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, religion and ability status.

“We would like to have our conversations centered around issues of being more inclusive as well as understanding and appreciating diversity,” Thomas said.

According to Thomas, here are a lot of misconceptions about what women’s and gender studies is, as well as what feminism is. Although the term feminist is associated with a negative connotation, Thomas feels that this should not be the case.

“Being a feminist really means that you are wanting to end discrimination that is based on oppression and gender,” Thomas said. “Part of having the conference on campus is to help reduce some of the misconceptions that surround what women’s and gender studies is.”

The Wilkes’ and King’s women’s and gender studies departments encourage students to share past work or create new work related to identity and diversity issues.

Presentations dealing with gender-related topics that do not connect directly to the theme are also allowed. Service learning, community service and travel abroad opportunity are welcomed at the conference.

“One of the nice things about the conference is that students can take work that they have done in other classes or ideas they have talked about in other classes and create new work and actually get to talk about it beyond the classroom setting,” Field said.

For individuals interested in participating, prepare a proposal explaining the presentation. Proposals are now being accepted until Feb. 24. They may be submitted online.

“We hope to accept everyone who is interested in presenting. It is a very inclusive process,” Field said. “There are some professors who have participating in the conference as part of a course requirement.”

There are different session types including research presentations, panel discussions, poster presentations, video screenings and performance art.

“It’s a chance to learn,” Field said. “It’s a chance to learn from their peers in a way that I think is really exciting and a chance to see what it is like to do this kind of public speaking to a friendly audience who is very interested in the topic.”

Thomas also believes that students need opportunities to share their work with other individuals and have more public speaking experiences.

Employers are looking for individuals who have the capacity to communicate effectively and speak clearly in the work environment. Practicing public speaking skills help students become better at influencing others, motivating change and forming connections.

Thomas said the conference “is a very safe and friendly environment to gain public speaking skills and confidence.”

This year’s keynote speaker is award winning author, Susan Muaddi Darraj. Her presentation, taking place on April 10 at 7 p.m. at King’s College, is called “Changing the Narrative,” and will be about how race and politics affect the way people view women.

“She will also be talking about how literature is a way we can have these discussions and gain a better understanding of other people,” Thomas said. “Literature can help us give voice to groups of people who are marginalized and often do not have a voice.”

The conference is on April 10 and 11 beginning at 9 a.m. at King’s College. For more information or questions about the conference, please contact Dr. Jennifer Thomas at [email protected] or Dr. Robin Field at [email protected]